Washington-based pilots sweep Stearman flying awards

SPOKANE, Washington — Felts Field (KSFF) Airport-based pilots swept the national flying competition awards for “Four-Ship” formation flying and the Aerobatic competitions during the 39th Annual National Stearman Fly-in, held in Galesburg, Illinois (Sept. 6-11).

“Spokane Flight” won the 39th National Stearman Fly-In’s 4-ship formation flying contest at Galesburg, IL, Municipal Airport on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. Team members were Larry Tobin, James Love, Dave Holmes and Jeff Hamilton. Photo: Robert F. Harrison, National Stearman Fly-In

In the “Four-Ship” formation flying competition, the four pilots flying their Stearman biplane aircraft were Jeff Hamilton, Dave Holmes, Larry Tobin, and James Love. The group demonstrated several maneuvers including fingertip, diamond and echelon formations. The pilots were judged on their ability to join, team symmetry, the audience reaction, and the pilots’ skills in changing positions. The Felts’ team was one of four that competed for the “Four-Ship Formation” award.

Terry Middaugh, also based at Spokane’s Felts Field, won the aerobatics contest, competing in a field of six competitors. In addition to demonstrating several conventional aerobatic maneuvers, he performed a rolling turn and an inverted spin, and was the only pilot in the competition to do so. Mr. Middaugh is currently en route to Texas to compete in a National Aerobatic contest.

The National Fly-In attracted over 100 Stearman aircraft from across the United States and Canada. In addition to the flying contests, other events included judging of restored planes, technical seminars on maintaining the Stearman, and time to talk with other enthusiasts and friends. The Stearman aircraft, named for aviation legend Lloyd Stearman, originated in the 1930s as a training aircraft for World War II era pilots. At its plant in Wichita, Kansas, the Stearman Division of the Boeing Aircraft Company built more than 8,000 – biplanes and enough spare parts to assemble another 2,000 – from 1935 to February 1945.

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