By DeWITT WHITTINGTON
After low clouds and some rain up and down the East Coast, May 31 proved the beginning of a spectacular weekend of blue skies and intense sun, which brought out the colors of about 207 aircraft attending the 17th Virginia Regional Festival of Flight. (See photos below).
This seventh year for the Virginia Festival of Flight at Suffolk Executive Airport (KSFQ) was headlined by the Tuskegee Airmen mobile museum owned by the Commemorative Air Force, plus several flights by the Red Tail P-51C.
“Two days before the fly-in all the sixth graders in the Suffolk schools received a presentation of the history and significance of the Tuskegee Airmen,” Fly-in President Ray Batton reports.
A first for the Virginia Fly-in was the opportunity to begin to understand the tremendous potential of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly called drones.
The wide range of designs and the potential for their use in law enforcement, agriculture, mapping, search and rescue, and more were introduced to attendees by 14 displays with representatives to answer questions. In the full size airplane category, NASA Langley brought its Cirrus outfitted to fly as a computer-controlled drone.
This year the Youth Area with two tents and an outside activity area offered kids multiple hands-on experiences. Glen Knutson’s forum tents were busy with 31 presentations ranging from aviation fuels and LSA Maintenance Requirements to the Restoration of the Enola Gay and Two World Record Attempts, One Successful, One Not So Much.
Another first was Charlie Collier, a master welder, who taught a weekend long TIG welding workshop. A record 18 of these forum and workshop sessions offered either WINGS or AMT credit.
One of the major draws of the Virginia Festival of Flight are the homebuilt, antique and classic aircraft that attend. Builders and owners like to compare notes with each other, as well as request they be judged. Judging results are posted here.
As expected, the majority of planes that flew in were certified aircraft requiring a cadre of aircraft parkers waving them to parking areas. Two letter codes available on the website placed in windshields helped volunteer parkers with this job.
As often requested at the Festival of Flight, attendees took flights in a 172, an AT-6, two helicopters and a Great Lakes. Aircraft and flight training vendors displayed LSA and certified aircraft, as well promoted their flight schools.
A Saturday car show and a Sunday afternoon aerobatic airshow widened the local appeal of the fly-in. A last minute surprise was the arrival on Sunday of the Spirit of Freedom DC-4, the flying museum of the Berlin Airlift.
The 2015 Virginia Festival of Flight is set for May 30-31 at Suffolk Executive Airport.
For more information: Virginia Fly-In.org