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Report From the Arlington Fly-In and Sport Aviation Convention

By Patrick Panzera, Editor - Experimenter, EAA 555743

Formation at Arlington
One of several formation flights performed by the Blackjack Squadron at the Arlington Fly-In last week. Photo by Pat Panzera
View the photo gallery

July 14, 2011 – Take a pot-full of aviation - from homebuilts and ultralights to military hardware and everything in between - a pinch of the Pacific Northwest, and sprinkle it with deep azure blue skies, contrasting stark white cumulous clouds, emerald green grass, and temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s, and what you end up with is a recipe for the 2011 Arlington Fly-In. At least for Saturday and Sunday, as the weekend started out a little damp, to be polite, but hey, it’s Washington State!

The Arlington Fly-In has been nested in the same location for the past 43 years, about 25 miles north of Seattle and within 60 miles of the Canadian border, delimited by the waters of Puget Sound to the west and Glacier Peak to the east. Being so close to the Canadian border, it’s not uncommon to see aircraft C numbers peppered throughout the sea of N numbers. In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a temporary office on the field to accommodate our friends from the north. And the national anthem of both Canada and the United States played before each day’s air show.

Although it’s still too early to get a final headcount, show officials were pleased with the numbers thus far. Weather cooperated for the most part, other than rain on Thursday making things difficult for some. The weekend was positively glorious, with just enough nip in the air to offset the beaming sunlight. Saturday was of course the big day for the show, with the show-plane parking area near capacity and the visitor plane parking (across the active taxiway) accepting the overflow, plus those who chose to camp with their planes.

There was an excellent cross-section of homebuilts on display, scattered through the certified display aircraft, giving a wonderful mixture of planes that would please any aviation enthusiast. As usual, the RV series of homebuilts easily outnumbered any other brand, but the homebuilt turnout was still impressive.

Antique aircraft took center stage next to the Red Barn museum. Leading the way was Addison Pemberton’s stunning Boeing 40C, which is the oldest flying Boeing airliner and the only flying Boeing 40 in the world. By some measure it could be considered to be outdone by the simple and elegant fully restored 1930 Aeronca C-2N by Craig MacVeigh. We’ll have to wait and see what the judges say about that.

Many of the restored certified aircraft were examples of extreme craftsmanship, which anyone who has built or restored an aircraft can appreciate. One such example would be Michael Ohler’s gleaming 1952 Cessna 170B that almost appeared to be painted blue, but is actually fully polished to a mirror-like finish.

Ultralights were fewer than past fly-ins, with the show-stopper being Mark Beierle of Earthstar Aircraft, who brought his electric-powered eGull 2000 Part 103 legal ultralight. His airplane is capable of flying for 1-1/2 hours on batteries, operating a 27-hp electric motor and having an empty weight that rivals its gasoline-powered duplicate. Mark is working toward marketing this package at a price comparable to gasoline-burning alternatives.

The Arlington Fly-In has been host to a rather extensive military collection that operates from a section on the airport that goes by the name of Camp Adams. A complete Army/Marine encampment, Camp Adams was raised adjacent to a display of former military aircraft including the Commemorative Air Force’s North American B-25J Mitchell Maid in the Shade, on display in CAF B-17 Sentimental Journey’s stead - the Flying Fortress was scheduled to appear but couldn’t make it due to maintenance issues.

More than 100 military vehicles from the World War II, Korea, and Vietnam eras were on display. The members of the Puget Sound Military Vehicle Collectors Club shared information about the history and purpose of the vehicles and weapon types, including Jeeps, scout cars, half-track, mechanical mules, ambulances, tank, anti-tank cannons, and more, including an R/C tank battleground for kids.

Sunday was designated Veterans Appreciation Day, allowing the free admittance for vets of any era, as well as their spouses. A parade of military vehicles kicked off the air show that day, which was in tribute to our country’s veterans. Sunday was also host to a somewhat impromptu car show that was designed to complement the military vehicles on display.

The extensive air show included Renny Price in his round-engine, Russian-built Sukhoi SU-29; Team Rocket, a two-ship combination with Eric Hansen in the F1 Rocket and Ken Fowler in the Harmon Rocket II; Bud Granley and his son Ross performing their spectacular Yak-18 and Yak-55 dual show; John Mrazek in his Harvard Mark IV, Pussycat II; Will Allen in a red and white, stars and stripes, American Champion Super Decathlon; Northern Arrows by Kevin Hopkins and Jerzy Strzyz in the Sukhoi SU-26 and SU-29; Paul Hajduk in an ASW15 sailplane equipped with a smoke system; Vicki Benzing in her modified Extra 300S; and Dave Mathieson.

As usual, none of this could have taken place if it were not for the tireless efforts of the promoters and volunteers. I’m sure their reward is the gratification of knowing they did a great job, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to hear it, or see it in print. With that, we would like to offer a hearty “thank you” to everyone involved with this year’s Arlington Fly-In and Sport Aviation Convention.

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