By Bill Stansbeary
The 28th Annual Rocky Mountain EAA Regional Fly-In celebrated our freedom of flight at Front Range Airport (FTG) June 24-25. There was something for everyone, whether your interest is flying, owning/building your own aircraft, or just enjoying a weekend with the family.
For everyone interested in the past, present and future of aviation, aircraft were present from a wide range of time periods. Expert pilots performed solo and formation aerobatics and flybys in a wide variety of real and radio-controlled aircraft for two hours each day.
Bert Sutton, Bruno Many and Doug Nelson, Kirk Simpson and Keith Wenzel, Jerry Farmer, Lee DeMay, Cliff Honeycutt, Mike Hurley, Rocco Mariani, Mark Dennis and Gary Jones provided radio control airplane and helicopter performances.
The Colorado Air National Guard, 120th Fighter Wing, provided an F-16 Fighting Falcon flyby and also made the first public showing of their F-16 in new “Minute Men” paint markings. A Lockheed C-130 Hercules, U.S. Coast Guard, Air Station Sacramento, Calif., demonstrated sea rescue capability, and the Marine Corps, Air Station Yuma, Ariz., demonstrated an F-18.
Civilian performances included Falcon Flight, which made six-aircraft formation flight demonstrations in their RV-type experimental aircraft; Gary Miller, creating smoke circles in his Cessna C-180; Scott McMillan in his Yak-52; and Don Nelson in the Sukhoi Su-26, in a solo aerobatic performance. Bob Carlton gracefully performed “On Silent Wings,” a sky ballet complete with wingtip smoke.
Other entertainment included a solo aerobatic performance by Gary Dawson in his Murphy Rebel/Edge 300; a flyby from Steve Cowell in “Double Vee,” his Tuskegee AT-6; a flyby from Jim McKinstry in a Yak-3M; a T-6 flyby courtesy of AirPower West; and Mark Johnson flying his 1949 de Havilland DH-112 “Venom” jet, manufactured by Pilatus. Mike Bertz also flew the P-51 and Jet Provost in flybys.
Patriotic moments were supplied by vocalists Vern Skari, who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and Renee Willard, who sang “America the Beautiful,” as well as Walter Green, who made a solo parachute jump with the American flag.
The EAA Young Eagles program provided youth (ages 8-17) with the opportunity to go for a ride in an aircraft and add their names to the list of 1,250,000 children nationwide who have already done so. KidSpace (sponsored by the Colorado Department of Transportation-Aeronautics) provided a variety of opportunities for children to get a hands-on learning experience.
For the more serious aviator, the nation’s leading manufacturers were present to show the latest aviation products; many provided factory demonstration rides. Manufacturers of tools, avionics and all type of aviation supplies were on hand, as well as experienced craftsmen who gave workshop instruction with composites, fabric, sheet metal and welding. The seminar tents had a full forum schedule all weekend long with experts in many fields of interest.
Denny Cunningham, the air boss for the show, has been a pilot for more than 35 years. As an FAA air traffic controller, he spent more than 20 years at Chicago O’Hare, worked the tower at Oshkosh for nine EAA conventions, and became the first “gypsy controller” to be selected for tower duty at both Oshkosh and Sun ‘n’ Fun.
Aircraft awards are presented annually in various categories. This year, a 1953 SNJ-7B owned by Jack Cronin received Reserve Grand Champion, Thomas Shpakow’s 2005 Acroduster 2 SA750 Grand Champion, and Jim Douglas’ 2003 Hatz Classic the Brad Davenport Award.
First place in antique went to Chris Jacobsen for his 1944 Beechcraft D17S Staggerwing; warbird, Dick Jones, 1949 T6-G; classic, Nicholas Howell, 1946 Aeronca 7AC; contemporary, Howard Morgan, 1964 Cessna 185C; and custom/modern, Bob Carlton, 2002 Alisport Silent-J. Awards were also presented in various homebuilt categories. First place was given to Julian Smith for his 2002 Van’s RV-8 in the kit category; Terry Hart, 1991 Hart Cozy, plans; Bryan Burr, 2004 Lancair Super ES, composite; Eber Crosley, 2004 Van’s RV-8A, all metal; and Jim Douglas, 2003 Hatz Classic, tube & fabric.
For a complete listing of award winners, visit [http://www.rmrfi.org].