While aircraft flying in and out of the local airport on Saturday dotted the skies over Colusa, it was on the tarmac at the Colusa County Airport that proved to be the best opportunity for airplane enthusiasts and their families to see the flying machines up close.
The Colusa County Aviation Association hosted their 23rd Old Tyme Fly-In, which is how they annually inspire people, especially the younger generation, to love airplanes and aviation as much as they do.
“That is what this is all about,” said Randy Johnson, one of the organizers. “It’s for families and kids.”
This year’s Fly-In had about 130 aircraft, more than double last year, including former World War II fighters, small piston-powered airplanes, unique and experimental craft, gliders, helicopters, light aerobatic biplanes, and downright antiques.
Doug Watkins, of Yuba City, brought his Meyers 200D, once owned by author Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull), who was a fighter pilot and former editor for “Flying” magazine.
Saturday’s event included a pancake breakfast and raffle in the hanger of Sacramento River Aviation, as well as a small classic car show.
Aviation awards were given to Tom Dyer, of Sparks, Nev. for flying the farthest distance in his 1977 Choctah. Rex Mays, of the Williams Soaring Center, had the oldest plane, a 1927 Travel Air 4000, an open cockpit biplane later marketed as the Curtis Wright.
Kids attending the Fly-In tended to like the larger airplanes the best, as well as the open cockpit and military planes.
“My favorite is the one painted like an American Flag,” said Laila Marvel, 8, of Los Gatos.
Colusa Boy Scout Henry Jewett, 11, of Troop 5, who was helping with the event his third year, said of all the airplanes at the show, he enjoyed the local crop dusters the best.
“I like that they have two wings and they are open so you get to enjoy the fresh air,” Jewett said.
Other popular aircraft at the show were three gyroplanes, often mistaken for helicopters, which came together from the Lincoln area.
“We’re an evil gang,” joked Jamie Stowell, pilot and retired air traffic controller.
That the Fly-In attracted about 70 aircraft more than last year was largely due to the weather and clear air, Johnson said.
“The last two years we have had wildfires,” said Johnson.
And except for a little bit of fog closer to the coast, most pilots had no problem getting their planes up and over to Colusa for an early morning start and then back home before the July heat set in.
While many of the pilots fly into Colusa for the event every year, there were a few newcomers.
Billy Forbess, of Marysville, learned about the Fly-In when Sacramento Aviation recently worked on his Cessna 150, the fifth most produced civilian airplane ever.
In addition to joining hundreds of other pilots and passengers for a complementary breakfast, the hallmark of the Old Tyme Fly-In, Forbess said he loved looking at all the old airplanes.
“I been an aviation fan since World War II when I was a little kid,” he said.
In addition to sparking an interest in aviation among the general public and youth, the Old Tyme Fly-In serves to promote the Colusa County Airport as more than just a base for agricultural operations, organizers said.
Aviation Association member Mike West thanked the pubic, particularly local businesses who donated dozens of raffle prizes, for the tremendous success the Fly-In garners every year. ■