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3rd Annual NC Aviation Museum Fly-In

Posted on 05/29/09

Although several food vendors and a few displays will be familiar to area aviation aficionados, much will be different both outside and inside at the North Carolina Aviation Museum's Third Annual Fly-In. The event is slated for a 9 a.m. takeoff June 6, with the high-flying fun not coming in for a landing until around 4 that afternoon.

A couple of open-air "surprises," each still in the final stages of confirmation, promise to provide ample doses of excitement to young and old alike. However, outdoors isn't the ONLY place fly-in fans will notice changes this year as inside the museum a major transformation is taking place as well, not only in aircraft, but exhibits and energy, too.though final approval from federal and military authorities must be received by NCAM officials before the release of the exact nature of at least one of the "surprises," providing general (but very limited) information about both has already been formally approved.

Therefore, the first "surprise" will involve an immaculate 1944 North American SNJ-6 (T-6 "Texan").

As for the second, says Event Coordinator Amy Byrd, fly-in goers "should keep their eyes to the sky, especially in the early afternoon. And that, unfortunately, is all I can say right now, except, I'm wishing for PERFECT weather and especially LOW winds!!"

Furthermore, if Mother Nature gets too nasty, not just the pair of "surprises," but the entire event could be in jeopardy. This would be a true tragedy as the fly-in is by far the largest fund-raiser each year for the NCAM, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history, as well as honoring the heritage of  the wonderfully wide, wide world of flight. No rain date has been set, added Byrd, however, if the event is cancelled due to bad weather the volunteer board of directors will meet as soon as possible to hopefully schedule a new date in the near future.

"I think if we get fair skies and only a slight breeze or two we should have a great show," said Air Force retiree Bob Coyle, NCAM Board Chairman.

A former flight engineer on C-133s, C-124s and C-5s, Coyle added that attendees will not only be treated to dozens of arriving aircraft, but everything from face-painting by the "Young Marines," to Ham Radio operators talking worldwide, to free small plane rides (for youngsters 8-17) courtesy of the Experimental Aircraft Association's "Young Eagles Program."

The "Young Eagles" welcome youth into the world of aviation, an exciting and vital part of our nation's future! Youngsters will experience an enjoyable flight that will hopefully give them new perspectives on the world, and help them realize their potential is unlimited.

A veteran of more than 100 combat missions in Vietnam, Coyle went on to say that this year, "thanks to our new GM-Curator we have arranged flights via the 'Young Eagles' for nearly 100 deserving youngsters from Baptist Children Home of N.C. and the American Children's Home near Lexington."

Just a few of the other events on tap include: hourly raffles all day long; artists exhibiting a wide variety of aviation art prints; models on display from Kit Kringle and the Central Carolina Remote Control Modelers Club and patriotic music by Bernie Hall. Additionally, if time allows, a few close-up magic shows will be performed by the general manager at various locations.

As for a short-list of the food available, how about Gilberts Homemade Old Fashioned Ice Cream and hamburgers and hotdogs from the Farmer Civitans for starters. There will also be barbeque, funnel cakes, snowcones and much more.

However, outdoors by no means is the ONLY site of change at this year's fly-in!

"If people haven't been through the museum in the last year, folks won't believe the difference," said retired Marine Colonel John Carey, a Virginia resident who makes a couple of treks yearly to Murrells Inlet, S.C., to visit his brother and sister-in-law. He usually stops by the NCAM on one trip and the North Carolina Zoo on the other. He estimates he's been to the museum at least a dozen times over the last decade or so.

The former "First Shirt," who hadn't been by since August 2008, stopped in Friday and said he was "impressed by the amount of change that has occurred in 9 months. New aircraft, displays, layout and design - it's really looking high and tight!"

"I wasn't even sure I was in the right place when I got to Hangar 2," added the 28-year veteran. "With the Army and Navy now prominently represented, the NCAM is fast becoming an aviation-plus museum."

"It's almost like a 'new'seum," Carey quipped heading out the door. "Can't wait to see what's been added next year - maybe something honoring the MARINES?"

Some of the latest additions to the NCAM's fast-growing lineup include a two-ton, museum quality Mk-14 torpedo mounted on a display honoring the 52 American submarines (and 3,505 souls) lost during World War II, as well as a 1950s era hydrodynamic submarine, used in research and testing to develop the most efficient shape for traveling underwater. Both are on loan to the museum courtesy of the "North Carolina Sub Vets."

Another new arrival is a beautifully constructed and maintained RV-8. It cost Charlotte resident Steve Glasgow nearly $90,000 to build and required more than three years of painstakingly precise construction to complete. He gave it to the NCAM in August 2008. "It is heartwarming to know that 'Cappy's Toy' will forevermore be representing experimental aviation and that I have found a good home for her," said Glasgow.

"We can't thank Steve enough for his wonderful gift," said Coyle. "It goes to show you people of true quality produce work of true quality."

About 50 new model aircraft are also now on display as well. Ranging in wingspan from 10 inches to 10 feet they include: a 1/5-scale model of the 1903 Wright Flyer provided by master modeler and Cary resident Mark Glazer (A full-size version of the same aircraft from another source may arrive within the next 90 days.); a P-47D "Thunderbolt" and Messerschmitt BF-109 from Mike Starnes of Thomasville and a radio-controlled Piper J-3 "Cub" courtesy of High Point's Tom White. The combined worth of all four is somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000.

Active restoration is again underway at the museum as well. Randleman Lake Warden Mike White and his son, Ryan, have been putting in umpteen hours every other Saturday to bring the "Rutan VeriEze" back to life. White figures about a year or two will be needed to restore the plane to display quality. He has done this type of work for decades and "can't wait to get NCAM as often as I can."

"We may even try to make it flyable depending on the amount of support that comes forward in the next year," said White. "We have an engine!" Until then, father and son will be working side by side in Hangar 2 "and loving every minute of it," said Ryan, with a smile as wide as a B-52's wingspan.

Additionally, there will be a hospitality tent at the event available for people to rest, watch and be out of the sun. The $10 parking fee per carload covers the fly-in and admission to the museum. It will be conducted in and around the NCAM, located adjacent to the Asheboro Regional Airport, just off N.C. Highway 49 South at 2222-G Pilot's View Road.

For more information, call an NCAM staffer at 336-625-0170, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or Sundays from 1-5 p.m.

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