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2008 SERFI Sensational

Campers at SERFI included traditional under-the-wing enthusiasts as well as RV residents in the pines at SERFI October 24-26.

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October 29, 2008 — The 2008 Southeastern Regional Fly-In (SERFI) lived up to its theme last weekend, Friendly Folks and Flying Fun, at Middleton Field in Evergreen, Alabama. Despite a rainy Friday, which affected the number of airplane arrivals, clear, sunny weather on Saturday made for ideal flying and outdoor activities. For the weekend more than 112 aircraft flew in, 55 campsites were filled, and at least 1,100 people had attended by the end of the 18th annual event on Sunday.

In the southern tradition, SERFI is a “people” gathering where airplane folks who share a love for aviation enjoy meeting around campfires and picnic tables. It’s a reunion of sorts, with EAA members and homebuilders sharing projects, stories, and adventures in a family atmosphere.

Although weather kept the usual number of planes down, those that were flown in were impressive and made for some challenging decisions for the judges. Winning the Grand Champion Trophy and Champion Warbird with a P-51 Mustang was Denny Hickman from Reform, Alabama. Bill Woods of Cartersville, Georgia, won awards for both Custom Metal and Reserve Grand Champion with his RV-8.

Kenny Campbell, of Troy, Alabama, took home three awards - Custom Composite Champion for his perfectly crafted Thunder Mustang; Reserve Champion for his T-34; and Reserve Custom Composite for his GlaStar Sportsman on floats. Kathy Zuber’s Howard won the Antique Champion, and powered parachutes took the Light Sportplane class awards with Roger Bailey receiving Champion and Bailey & Alpine winning Reserve.

Additional awards went to: David Von Brock, Gulf Breeze, Florida, Champion Pacer, Custom Classic Champion; Mark Lamon, Milton, Florida, Aeronca, Custom Classic Reserve; William Holeman, Demopolis, Alabama, RV-8A, Custom Metal Reserve; Ronnie Westbrook, Elba, Alabama, Kitfox, Custom Tube & Fabric Champion, and Greg Uhl, Columbus, Mississippi, Starduster Too, Custom Tube & Fabric Reserve.

Many other activities also drew attention, including three interesting educational seminars. Dr. Van Horne of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, told pilots how to stay sharp and fit for physical and mental challenges of flight. Maples Aviation of Pensacola presented Owner Oil Changes and Prop Maintenance classes. Max Gurgew, FAASTeam Rep from Huntsville gave an FAA Safety Program on runway incursions.

For those who came to fly, a 1928 Travel Air Biplane, the Bird of Paradise, was available for rides. Twenty-four youths flew Young Eagle flights with EAA Chapter 825 volunteers, including 14 Junior Navy ROTC students from Atmore High School.

Powered parachutes made good use of the ultralight landing area. Groups of colorful canopies could be seen flying early and late in the day. Spectators visited with Navy pilots who flew a helicopter in for static display.

Vendors included a Fly Market and aircraft dealers, including Rotorway Helicopters, Lanier Cessna, Cub Crafters, Remos Aviation, Southern Avionics, and Silverwing Aviation Interiors. Heart of Dixie Aero Estates and River Fly In Condominiums displayed aviation community property information. Huntsville Flight Center beckoned potential student pilots.

Chapter 108 volunteers cooked “The World’s Roundest Pancakes” and local Conecuh sausage to perfection each morning. Southern barbeque and EAA “Bubba Burgers” were available for lunch along with snow cones.

Bruce Newman, Pensacola, Florida, Chapter 485 president, served as event chairman for the first time this year. Also new in 2008 was Dave Richardson, Chapter 152, head judge. Eleven EAA chapters across Alabama and northern Florida form the SERFI board. Dozens of committee assignments cover each event detail from aircraft registration to portable toilets. In addition, an army of essential volunteers completes the SERFI team.

The City of Evergreen and SERFI have formed a unique bond and spirit of cooperation over the years. At the Saturday night awards dinner, Mayor Larry Fluker said he was delighted with an upcoming 1,000-foot runway expansion (needed for training by pilots at the nearby Pensacola NAS), saying that it would enhance SERFI, and that the event can't go anywhere else for at least the next 50 years! SERFI 2009 is set for October 23-25.

Report by Betty Meyer

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