Aircraft enthusiasts take to the skies for annual fly-in

Published 12:22 am Sunday, May 9, 2010

VIDALIA — Bruce Williams of Woodville has been flying for 40 years, and with youth by his side it hasn’t gotten old.

Williams and his grandson Phoenix Roberts of Baton Rouge flew in along with 10 other aircraft owners to the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 912’s annual fly-in Saturday morning at the Concordia Parish Airport.

“It was a little windy and bumpy today, but I wasn’t scared,” Roberts said. “I trust my paw-paw.”

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Roberts, 9, has been flying in planes with his grandfather since Roberts was 3, and Williams said he has cherished every flight.

“I love it. I’d do it all the time if I could,” Williams said. “He really likes it.”

Being able to build his own aircraft is another reason Williams enjoys flying so much. Williams said he has built seven aircrafts and that his grandson has helped with construction too.

“If he needed a small hand for something, I was there,” Roberts said.

Russel Smith III, an emergency room doctor at Natchez Community Hospital, brought his 2-year-old son, Russel Smith IV to see the airplanes.

“We take him to airports a good bit to look at planes,” Smith said. “He likes digging in dirt and looking at airplanes.”

When Byron “Frog” Schulingkamp worked at the Exxon Refinery in Baton Rouge making jet fuel, he said he never expected one day he’d be burning so much.

But when he was 42, a friend took him up in an experimental aircraft and seven months later, he had his first plane. Now, Schulingkamp participates in as many fly-ins as he can.

“I took my plane down to the Bahamas recently and ended up staying for a month,” said Schulingcamp, who was wearing his Bahamas T-shirt. “I was helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity.”

Schulingcamp said fly-ins are his favorite part of the experimental aircraft experience and that he participates to talk with all of his friends, have a good meal and show off and teach anyone interested about the joys of experimental aircraft.