Fly-in goes on despite early rains

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 4, 2008

VIDALIA — In a scene that would have brought a smile to the Wright brothers’ faces, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s local chapter, 912, hosted their spring fly-in Saturday morning at the Concordia Parish Airport.

Saturday’s pre-dawn storms forced the fly-ins cancellation but passed so quickly that the event was able to be rescheduled.

Jerry Stallings, Chapter 912’s first president, said he was hopeful for a good turn out in light of the early cancellation.

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“It’s going to be a good day,” he said Saturday morning looking over a myriad of experimental aircraft.

But the term “experimental aircraft” can be a bit misleading.

The term perhaps conjures rickety contraptions fixed together with various bonding agents and fueled by exotic combustibles.

While that is experimental, the crafts at Saturday’s show were anything but rickety.

Stallings explained experimental is a classification for aircrafts that essentially means they were produced outside of a production facility.

Many of the crafts at Saturday’s show were made in homes or garages.

And when it comes to homemade aircraft, it’s hard to beat Clyde Hollier.

Hollier, 75, flies a homemade RV-8 that he built over a period of more that five years.

It’s a sleek white plane with red and blue striping that looks like it’s never been used even though Hollier has been flying it for close to 10 years.

“It’s his baby,” one spectator says looking in the cockpit.

While some would likely be leery to fly in a homemade plane, Hollier said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I know everything that went into building it,” he said. “The guy at the factory might come to work having a fight with his girlfriend and he owes money all over town, he’s not thinking about what he’s doing.”

Pat McCaughey, fellow aviation buff and homemade plane builder, said there’s almost no comparison between a handmade craft and one from a factory.

“It’s just a much better machine,” he said.

Aside from those who build their own planes, at Saturday’s show was a group that has no planes at all.

Parked off in a far corner of the airport was a group of motor homes belonging to a roving tribe of power parachute enthusiasts.

The group is made of mostly retirees who spend their days traveling to small airports across the country and flying around in their power parachute.

A power parachute is little more than a seat and engine strapped to an enormous fan all attached to a parachute.

“Low and slow,” Bill Vietti said of his idea of a perfect flight in a power parachute.

Vietti, from Kansans, is the group’s unofficial leader.

Vietti said ideal day of flying is one with no chance of storms and low winds.

“It’s great up there,” he said.

No matter if it had a cockpit or a fan, Stallings described the day as a great social event for anyone who loves to fly

“It’s a way to get us all together,” he said.