By MARTY STEINER
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood during the 52nd annual Thomasville Fly-in at Thomasville Regional Airport (KTVI) in Georgia.
This airport is also home to an aviation collector’s pilgrimage site, the Power of the Past aviation museum. Known for James Dekle’s aviation engine collection, the museum also holds an incredible lifetime collection of other aviation items.
Among the holy grails of engines is the Curtiss OX-5. The museum has two, including a fully operational demonstration engine mounted on a trailer to allow appearances at special aviation events.
James Dekle at 93, the founding collector, is still hunting for additions to the more than 50 engines already in the museum. The V-12s would round out this collection. The breakthrough American designed World War I Liberty V-12, later Allisons, along with both versions (American and British rotation) of the Packard built Merlins have eluded his capture. (Hint: Sainthood will be granted to anyone leading to the addition of these engines to this museum, even on loan!)
After breaking away from this compelling museum and its engaging owner, I made my way to the ramp to see the People’s Choice winner, the DC-3 “Stars and Stripes,” which is owned by Jim Sells, who is based at Candler Field in Williamson, Georgia.
Nearly 250 aircraft from far and near attended the 2019 event. The “Empty Tanks” award for the longest flight to the fly-in was earned by Paul Neely with his one-way trip of 967 nm from Skyhaven Airport (KDAW) in Rochester, New Hampshire.
The oldest aircraft at the show, winning the “Kitty Hawk” award, was Wayne Mather’s 1940 Luscombe 8A.
Newest aircraft honors, also known as the “Empty Pockets” award, went to Jeff Ware with his 2019 Legend Cub.
The oldest pilot at the show, who flew in in his 1944 Howard DGA-15P, was John Bakosh, 90, from Tennessee. He won the fly-in’s annual “Rockin’ Chair” award. The youngest pilot, at 17, was Kolt Ashe from Auburn, Alabama, who won the “Baby Steps” award.
Taking advantage of the vast array of aircraft at the fly-in were members of Boy Scout Troop 118 from Tallahassee, Florida, who were working on their Aviation Merit Badges.
The annual Thomasville Fly-in is always held on the second weekend of October. The 53rd edition will be Oct. 9-11, 2020.