A crowd of several hundred young and young-at-heart aviators cooked their own hamburgers on grills amid a spectacular sunset during the inaugural grass roots fly-in at Triple Tree Aerodrome near Woodruff, South Carolina, in June. The immaculately manicured 7,000-foot-long grass landing strip with upscale camping facilities, ponds, and bridges, set the stage for more than 500 attendees who registered to attend the fly-in aimed at—and organized by—youth who are seen as vital to the future of aviation.
Aerobatic RC demonstrations, learning clinics, a raffle, rows and rows of airplanes, and camaraderie were the star attractions at the low-cost, youth-oriented fly-in aimed at opening the door to aviation for future pilots.
“We were taking a shot in the dark, but this is a huge success,” said co-organizer and college student Cayla McLeod, 19. McLeod came to the attention of Triple Tree’s Pat Hartness after McLeod, then 17, delivered a touching eulogy for Candler Field Museum Youth Aviation Program founder Ron Alexander. Hartness said he was so moved that he “just had to meet this young lady.”
McLeod met commercial pilot Ryan Hunt, 23, a third-generation aviator, who would become the fly-in’s co-organizer. The two were invited by Hartness “to come up for a private tour and we loved it,” McLeod said. “They spoke to us about finding a way to get more youth involved at Triple Tree and we determined that a youth fly-in would be a great idea.”
The turnout was “awesome” said Hunt of what he and McLeod hope will become an annual “young person’s Oshkosh.”
“This is beautiful, take a look around,” said Hartness, the creator of Triple Tree. “We are really proud to have young people here because they are the future. We want you, we need you—and we want you to like this place,” he said. —David Tulis
By Julie Summers Walker
There are more than 300 VFR days a year in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and although it’s at 7,100 feet elevation and winds can pick up in the afternoon, this capital city is a dream for pilots. Two venerable FBOs serve the airport and its 8,300-foot runway welcomes all sizes of aircraft. The pilot community is welcoming and the opportunities to flightsee in the area are vast—and gorgeous.
Not only is Santa Fe the oldest U.S. capital city, it’s also the highest (Cheyenne, Wyoming, is second and Denver, third). Sitting at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, Santa Fe is a magical, exuberant, colorful journey, and the city will be the site of the second 2018 AOPA Fly-In September 14 and 15. The Santa Fe Municipal Airport (the airport is in the process of being renamed “Regional”) will be the host, with the Signature and JetCenter FBOs welcoming guests.
Two days of aviation seminars, exhibits, and fun are complemented by great food, good people, and camaraderie at an AOPA Fly-In. The AOPA Fly-In begins Friday with all-day seminars (registration and fee required) on topics ranging from weather to mountain flying. Each all-day seminar features an expert in the field sharing his or her knowledge, along with a hands-on opportunity to increase the learning experience. Friday afternoon, the exhibitors open and invite everyone for a happy hour, and Friday night is the much-anticipated Barnstormers Party. Saturday dawns with a pancake breakfast, aircraft displays, various free seminars and meetings, and more. The day concludes with AOPA President Mark Baker’s Pilot Town Hall meeting.
Santa Fe is a center for arts and culture and is the country’s third largest art market, with nearly 300 galleries and dealers to explore, especially on the city’s famed mile-long Canyon Road. Established 13 years before the pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock, Santa Fe is remarkable for its architecture. Most of the buildings in Santa Fe are adobe mission-style structures—distinctive low-slung, flat-roofed buildings that blend naturally into the land. The city’s fathers mandated the preservation of the Spanish Pueblo style and most shops, restaurants, and galleries are housed in adobe structures. The area has a rich history, blending Hispanic, Anglo, and Native American cultures; Santa Fe calls itself the City Different. Come to the fly-in and discover why.
A diamond formation of Globe and Temco Swifts—the two-place speedster that even looks fast sitting still—dropped low for a smoke-filled formation flight to help celebrate the aircraft’s heritage during the 2018 Swift National fly-in at McMinn County Airport in Athens, Tennessee.
AOPA President Mark Baker was along for the ride in Paul Mercandetti’s polished GC–1B, a shining example of the retractable gear taildraggers manufactured from the 1940s to ’50s and supported by the Swift Museum Foundation. Baker dropped in to help highlight 50 years of the foundation, the debt-free nonprofit that supports Swift aircraft owners with parts and technical help, formation flying clinics, a retail store, a museum of rare Swifts, and more.
Foundation president Jim “Frog” Jones, a Swift aircraft owner for more than 40 years, said taking Baker up in the aircraft was a highlight for many of the 43 Swift aircraft pilots who flew in to celebrate the model’s heritage during a four-day extravaganza at the museum’s home airport. Jones said that formation flights, completion of the third and final phase of the museum, a raffle drawing with the winner in attendance, “and of course the fellowship with other Swift owners” resonated with fellow “Swifters” during the type club’s 2018 Swift National fly-in.
Pilots of the classic 70-year-old airframes are supported by the foundation that owns the type certificate, engineering data, tooling, and an inventory of parts to keep them airborne. Swift pilots established the main hangar and display museum, and the latest addition includes a classroom to facilitate formation ground schools and other clinics. They created a formation instruction regimen in 1999 based on the Formation and Safety Training warbird training program. Groups of Swifts can be spotted performing precision air work at airshows around the United States and overseas.
“It’s truly a magic carpet,” said Jones. —David Tulis