First Steam Plant Fly-In a success


The Sumner County Regional Airport, in Gallatin, Tennessee, hosted the first-ever Tennessee Steam Plant Fly-In Saturday, June 23. Organized by EAA Chapter 1343 and GTO Aviation, Inc., the inaugural fly-in featured vendors, information sessions, flight simulators, food, music, and more than 200 airplanes. Aviators from across the southeast and as far as Las Vegas  flew in to help kick off what EAA Chapter 1343 Vice President Len Assante hopes will be an annual success.

“The event went smoothly considering it being our first time,” said Assante. “Given a couple of glitches, like a few vendors who didn’t show up and limited parking space for the planes, it went pretty well.”

Civil Air Patrol Gallatin Cadet Squadron receives a briefing on the Eurocopter EC 135 used by Vanderbilt University Medical Center LifeFlight.

The economic impact that aviation has on Tennessee was the emphasized theme for the day. General aviation contributes $2.57 billion, or $431 per capita, to Tennessee’s economy. Based on a statewide survey by the Alliance for Aviation Across America of registered aircraft owners, 42% of Tennessee aircraft are mostly used for business, versus the national average of 28%.

EAA Chapter 1343 Vice President and Show Organizer Len Assante and Mike McCartney, CEO of GTO Aviation, receive a proclamation from Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves declaring June 23 Aviation Day in Gallatin.

Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves, was there to proclaim June 23 Aviation Day in Gallatin. During the proclamation, Graves spoke about the economic benefits that aviation has on Sumner County.

“We just approved a grant to extend the runway here to allow larger jets to fly in for business purposes,” said Graves. “As the improvements are made to this airport, we will bring in more and more aviation business here.”

“I agree with the mayor in that aviation is a growing business,” said Assante. “The impact aviation has on this area is significant and kind of hidden. A lot of people don’t know the airport is here because it’s not direct and obvious. But if it wasn’t here, people would feel its loss.”

The World Aircraft Vision was one of many LSAs on display at the show. World Aircraft is based in Paris, Tenn.

Aviation can be a financial challenge to those who love to fly. One of the vendors from the show hopes to ease the cost of owning an aircraft.

Aviation Access Project is a new company based in Huntsville, Alabama, with a purpose to give everyday people access to aviation.

“This allows people to get in at a price point that makes sense,” said Vice President of Finance Chris Gattis. “We can put someone in a new light-sport plane for example, in a partnership with about six or seven other people. We can teach them how to fly, we will manage and maintain the plane, and when they want to fly, the plane is gassed and ready to go — all for less than the price of a new car.”

The date for the next fly-in is set for June 22, 2013.

“Thanks to our many volunteers that helped out,” said Assante. “Our attendance today met our expectations and we learned a great deal. We hope that next year is even better.”

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