'Golden West' Ushers In July
July 3, 2007 — Ideal weather brought thousands of people and hundreds of airplanes to the 10th annual Golden West EAA Regional Fly-In at Yuba County Airport, Marysville, California this past weekend. Upwards of 6,000 people came through the gate, with about 750 aircraft on the ground during the three-day event, held June 29-July 1.
"We're pretty pleased overall with the way things went," said John Gibson, fly-in president. "The weather was just terrific. There was even one point of the fly-in when where we were told there wasn't a cloud within 500 miles of us." Daytime high temperatures in the low 90s during the day made way for high 60s at night.
Nearly 400 volunteers attended to everything from forums and workshops to the KidQwest Hangar, aircraft parking, admissions, and all the other important ingredients that make up a successful EAA regional fly-in. Many volunteers, led by EAA chapters 52, 526, and 512, centered on the Kid Qwest area, which welcomed more than 350 young people throughout the weekend.
Friday was Kid's Day, featuring several activities including Young Eagle s flights in which about 50 kids were flown. The KidQwest Hangar featured an Aviation Hero Stage, balsa plane flying, flight sims, an aircraft design program allowing kids to build and fly their own airplane creations, and other activities. They even had a 6-foot Mylar hot-air balloon powered by an electric hair dryer.
EAA's National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) ran the Learn to Fly Center, offering guidance to those seeking to become a pilot. About 90 other forums and workshops scheduled over the weekend were well attended.
Golden West added a third air show on Friday and featured 10 Reno Air Racers throughout the weekend. One of them, John Parker, was scheduled to participate but his Blue Thunder Mustang developed an engine problem on Friday during Parker's world speed record attempt. His crew worked furiously to repair the problem but not in time to try again.
Saturday's featured special guest and speaker for the evening awards program was Mike Melvill of SpaceShipOne fame. He was able the take time out of his busy schedule at Scaled Composites to visit Marysville and was greeted by a standing-room-only crowd ? and a standing ovation.
"Mike gave a terrific talk all about his flights in SpaceShipOne," Gibson said. "Of course, there's another project he's very busy with - SpaceShipTwo - but he could not talk about that. There were no revelations here." SpaceShipTwo is Scaled's latest space vehicle being built for Virgin Galactic, which plans to offer commercial space flights launch as early as 2009.
Above all, this was another safe event, which Gibson, quipped, "The only injuries we had were sunburns." The 11th Golden West EAA Regional Fly-In is scheduled for June 6-8, 2008.