SWRFI Sets A New Standard At Fly-In
Mike Melvill filled the hangar at his two afternoon forums.
Melvill flew non-stop to Hondo in his trusted Long-EZ.
Cub's-eye view early on SWRFI opening day over Hondo.
EAA's Bob Warner with Debbin Rihn-Harvey and Fly-In President Stan Shannon.
May 16, 2006 — CThis past weekend's Texas Fly-In (Southwest EAA Regional Fly-In) was among the most successful in its 42-year history, reports fly-In President Stan Shannon. In fact, when the final figures are tallied, the May 12-14 event at Hondo Airport could turn out to be the best-attended and run event ever, further vindicating the event's relocation to Hondo last year.
"That's the general consensus," he said. "We've already gotten a lot of positive e-mails and judging from what people were saying at the fly-in, we really had our act together." The weather, which for so many years always created challenge for SWRFI, was ideal throughout. Temperatures ranged from morning 40s and 50s to late-afternoon 90s-like everything else in Texas, the temperature swings are big-and always clear.
Special guest Mike Melvill, the world's first civilian astronaut, made the six-and-a-half hour, non-stop flight from Mojave, California, in his 25-year-old Long-EZ. He provided attendees with an insider's look into his employer's (Scaled Composites) groundbreaking achievement of reaching suborbital space and winning the $10 million Ansari X-Prize. Melvill's two forums (Friday and Saturday) and the banquet were the most popular events of the fly-in.
Shannon estimates between 700 and 800 airplanes flew to Hondo over the three-day event. Most were from throughout the five-state area, but some came from as far away as Wyoming, Montana, Washington State, and Wisconsin. "It always surprises me how far people come to be here," he said.
About 50 airplane campers were set up on the ample airport grounds, which is more than double past years. Likewise, some 50 motor homes and RVs-some arriving as early as Tuesday-were on the grounds compared to the usual 20 or 30. A short air show on Friday featured a comedy routine by Charlie Jeric and the U.S. Air Force T6-A Demonstration Team from nearby Randolph AFB gave way to the expanded show on Saturday featuring Debby Rihn-Harvey, Ron Cain, Randy Henderson and Matt Younkin.
Representing EAA headquarters were Bob Warner, senior vice president, and Ron Wagner, manager of EAA field relations and sport pilot expert. Wagner gave two well-attended sport pilot forums, Friday and Saturday. The 2007 Texas Fly-In is scheduled for May 11-13.
SWRFI Aircraft Award Winners
Tony Bingelis Memorial Award
Best of Show - Homebuilt
RV8 - N757LH
Lyle Hefel, EAA 71630
Grand Champion - Plans Built
Waco UMF-5 - N14377 (see photo)
John Hudec, EAA 204567
Grand Champion - Kit Built
RV7 - N371RV
Richard Young, EAA 478528, and Glen Frels, EAA 187567
El Campo, Texas
Grand Champion - Antique
Fleet 16B - N9753L
Grand Champion - Classic
Beechcraft Bonanza - 1947 - N3088V
John Startz, EAA 240079
Grand Champion - Contemporary
Beechcraft Bonanza - 1963 - N373T
Jack and Sharon Counce, EAA 367189
Grand Champion - Ultralight
Danny Clapp, EAA 773415
San Antonio, Texas
Grand Champion - Seaplane
Lake 200 - N717HC
Harold and Camilla Kennedy, EAA 696877
Grand Champion - Warbird
Fairchild F-26 - N9859H
Peter Glawe, EAA 557586
Distance Award 1
Stingsport - N631M
San Juan Capistrano, CA
Distance Award 2
Beechcraft C-55 - N362RH
Elm Grove, WI