By Marie Fasano
Payson Airport (PAN) celebrated its 2008 Aero Fair with the theme “Honoring Our Military.” The aviation community wanted to send a “thank you” to the men and women in military service, said Beth Myers, the Aero Fair Committee co-chair.
Although the wind had been strong the day before, on Aero Fair day, it settled down to a gentle breeze for this airport mountain community accustomed to steady crosswinds.
More than 100 aircraft flew in to Payson, Ariz.
The newest Diamond, Cirrus and Cessna airplanes on display were a hit with the pilots. Other planes included a 1930 Eaglet Replica, 1970 Cessna 195, 1977 Piper Pawnee crop duster, a 1972 Citabria, and the highlight of the day, a bright, yellow 1943 Beech Staggerwing.
Three lucky people won a chance to fly in the Staggerwing with Larry Perkins. Payson Village Center donated the free rides. Gary Smith, one of the winners, said he was so excited he didn’t sleep after his night shift and got to the airport at 7:00 a.m. for the 9 o’clock flight.
At 11:00 a.m., Payson’s Military Honor Guard, retirees and representatives of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy, presented their colors. During the ceremony, each child waved a small flag in one hand and held on tight to their balsa wood airplane in the other hand.
The reservists from the Blackhawk helicopter A-12 285 Aviation Unit of the Army National Guard had folks in and out of their helicopter and Humvee all day.
“It’s personally rewarding to come here with this robust aircraft and be here with my comrades,” Captain Ken Twigg commented.
The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter # 810 members flew 155 passengers with eight airplanes in the airlift.
Prior to his flight, one young man said, “I’m afraid of flying, but my grandpa really wanted to go, so I came with him.”
He was smiling after the flight.
“That was OK!” he said. “It’s really beautiful up there.”
Bravo Partners Inc. let the children climb into the cockpit and look down into the open cargo bay of their 1974 Short SC7 Skyvan.
Volunteers from the Payson Pilots Association, Civil Air Patrol cadets, the Payson Police Department and Boy Scouts worked tirelessly. The CAP cadets from Payson and Show Low directed and moved airplanes to keep everyone safe.
Vendors with food, aviation, military and craft items completed the day at the 2008 Payson Aero Fair.