The Swift’s 76th anniversary was heralded with a patriotic “Spirit of 76” celebration during the 2022 Swift National Fly-In at the Swift Museum Foundation in Athens, Tennessee.
There were newcomers and old timers at the 2022 event, and of the latter, there were three remaining members of the original Tullahoma Bunch, the group that became the Staggerwing Club, then evolved into the Beechcraft Heritage Museum.
The Grassroots Fly-In is “a family, fun atmosphere where people not only fly their antique and classic airplanes in, but they fly them throughout the fly-in, said Midwest Antique Airplane Club President Justin Niemyjski. “It’s where guys share rides and let their friends fly their airplanes. You don’t find that happening very often.”
Always fascinated by aviation, Gail Franks took almost 30 years to earn her private pilot certificate, but only because she was immersed in another aspect of aviation: Building her own airfield.
Dick Willetts of Albia, Iowa, is an integral part of air show history, performing his Comedy Cub Capers for 50 years. In 2021, he celebrated the restoration of his beloved Cub at Antique Airfield in Iowa.
“If you can fly a J-3 Cub, you can fly this airplane.”
The Baby Great Lakes flies right into the category of “once you’ve seen one, you won’t forget it!” It is tiny, but those who own these airplanes love them.
“For me, aviation is more than a physical experience, it is also a spiritual thing,” says Hans Nordsiek, who is known as The Storyteller. He shares his passion for aviation with children of all ages to inspire them to be their best and strive to do something that they love.
The annual Beech Party broke records in 2021, with a bumper crop of Beechcraft aircraft showing up for the fly-in in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
The 2021 Swift National Convention was a special one: The Diamond anniversary event celebrating 75 years.
“No other fly-in I know of can boast the aircraft that were continually hauling rides, including a Swift, Waco UPF-7, Staggerwing, Stinson SR-5, and a Lockheed Vega. Add to that such activities as a Town Hall with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association President Mark Baker, two FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot and one Charles Taylor award presentations, Hans Nordsiek with The Storyteller presentation for kids, as well as our usual activities, and you can begin to see that numbers don’t always tell the whole tale.”
“I enjoy the scenery while I’m flying low and slow, and watching the farmhouses go by,” he says. “If you didn’t like it, you wouldn’t do it.”