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Arlington Fly-In Has That Summer Feeling

By Pat Panzera, Editor EAA Experimenter e-newsletter

Great Weather Boosts Arlington

The Arlington Fly-In, held July 7-11 benefitted from some very flyable weather and a vast array of visiting aircraft, according to Executive Director Barbara Tolbert. “It was a great year,” said Tolbert, who three days after the conclusion of the 42nd annual event was still catching her breath. “This was some of the best weather I can remember in years here, and it brought out an incredible mix of aircraft. In this tight economy, we were very pleased with the turnout.”

Final figures are not in yet, but Tolbert said about 1,100 aircraft attended—about 100 more than in 2009. Attendance was just slightly lower overall, but last year’s count was up 14 percent, officials were pleased. This year’s advance admission purchases increased about 35 percent over the previous year.

Dates for next year’s Arlington Fly-In are July 6-10, 2011.

For a list of Arlington’s award-winning aircraft, click here.

McLean and Todd
Republic Seabee. Photo by Pat Panzera

Marriage Refuel
One of the newest attractions on the Arlington landscape is the Red Barn in the Vintage Aircraft area. Volunteers put it together in four different sections. Since itís located on airport property, the sections make it easier to move before and after the event. Photo by Pat Panzera

July 12, 2010 —If the success of this year’s annual Arlington Fly In is any indication of what we might expect in two weeks at AirVenture Oshkosh, all I can say is hold on to your socks! It should be one great show! View the photo gallery

This is the first event I’ve ever attended where it seems that the aircraft outnumbered the pedestrian traffic, and the aircraft parking seemed to be at capacity! I’m sure the numbers will prove my estimation to be grossly inaccurate, but it just had that feeling. Maybe it’s the infrastructure; maybe it’s that there were so many cool and diverse planes to see that I didn’t notice the people. The parking lot sure indicated good foot traffic.

As with many fly-in reports, the weather always seems to be part of the headline, a lot of the time the report being negative. But I can’t see how the weather could have been any better for this year's event. If I could find fault with it, perhaps it could have been a few degrees cooler and the sun could have been less bright. For flying in - or in the case of many who arrived Thursday and Friday, or departed Saturday morning - it was about perfect.

The fine people who work hard to bring us this event year after year, administrators and volunteers alike, need to be applauded for creating a very diverse collection of attractions melded well enough that experimental aviation still remains king. Entering the gate, attendees were met with an array of light-sport aircraft, ultralights, and light experimentals. Those who chose to head east at the fork found themselves with the warbirds, starting first with the The Replica Fighters Association displaying a couple of Titan T-51s and a scale Nieuport or two, and ending up in a WWII camp with all forms of military vehicles and associated hardware, including an impressive display of small munitions.

Headlining the warbird area was a menacing Consolidated Vultee PBY 6A with its two Pratt & Whitney R-2600 “Twin Cyclone” engines towering above onlookers. At first glance it seemed clear that in addition to their main purpose of providing massive amounts of thrust, their secondary job was to sling oil on everything within the propeller arc, and when not running, to drip gallons of oil on unsuspecting individuals who neglected to notice droplets collecting into puddles on the ground below.

Those who went north at the fork were met by the homebuilts and show-worthy certifieds, which appeared to be dominated by canard aircraft since they had reserved group parking. There’s no doubt that despite those appearances, the RVs still remained king, but between the Sportsman and the Glasairs, Glasair Aviation also made a fine showing. Which is to be expected since Arlington’s airport is home to this homebuilding cornerstone. It was nice that the attendees could get close to the planes but aircraft were still roped off to where they couldn't inadvertently be damaged. I'm sure that owners appreciated being able to camp with their display aircraft. 

Taking center stage and anchored by the newly constructed red barn museum was a dozen or so beautifully restored antique aircraft with a good compliment of antique automobiles from the same era. Continuing away from the antiques, it seemed fitting that the oldest planes on the field were displayed adjacent to the newest in the LSA display.

As usual, Canada was represented well; a good number of aircraft on the field sported “C” registration numbers. Appropriate recognition of our friends to the north was made when Oh, Canada was played with The Star Spangled Banner to open the air shows. Sea planes, Tundra tires, and floats were also in abundant supply, including several aircraft vendors offering bush planes or conversions for certified and experimental aircraft.

Other than a dozen or so VW engines, the only automobile engine conversion I found was a Corvair installed in a highly modified KR2-S nicknamed “Goliath” that was decked in a blue camouflage paintjob. I was not able to see all the planes in the general parking area, but I'm sure there were other auto conversions on the field.

The “dead grass award” will surely go to Paul Weston’s Sea-Era, a one-off flying boat. While most people have adapted water operations to aircraft, Paul essentially added wings to a boat - a fast boat at that. Another contender is the BD-5B belonging to its builder and pilot David Mischke, which also appears in the What Our Members are Building section of the current Sport Aviation. This is David’s second BD-5 and is powered by a four-stroke Yamaha snowmobile engine.

My only real complaint is the timing of the event. With weather being the first concern, the Arlington Fly-In has to take place far enough into the year to make sure that winter is completely over, but not so late as to start getting into fall. This makes it roughly the same time as AirVenture, causing a lot of vendors and pilots have to make tough decisions to attend one and not the other since they are usually only about two weeks apart.

Look for a complete report on this event in the next issue of EAA’s “Experimenter” e-newsletter. If you are not a subscriber to this free member service, you can solve that by clicking here. Experimenter is dedicated to providing comprehensive news and information for the homebuilding community.

 
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