By Brian Mosely
The wind was a brisk 14 knots (approximately 16 mph) on the runway and the pilot warned that the ride could be a bit bumpy Tuesday morning.
But while the tummy protested just a bit, the mind and other senses were having way too much fun to notice as Charles McGaughy took his T-34 Warbird to the skies over Shelbyville.
That plane is just one of several that will be on display and up in the air Saturday for Shelbyville Aviation Day – Wings and Wheels event, kicking off at 10 a.m. at Shelbyville Municipal Airport, U.S. 231 North
North Main Street, Madison Street and the Celebration grounds are in clear view during a morning flight over Shelbyville in the two seater T-34, one of the vintage aircraft on display this Saturday during Shelbyville Aviation Day, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
(T-G photo by Brian Mosely)
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The family event will last until 2 p.m. Classic and antique cars and warbirds will be on display, along with rides in a vintage DC-3 and plenty of food available from vendors.
McGaughy owns Mack Air LLC, located at Shelbyville’s airfield, and his T-34 will be just one of at least five of the same models making an appearance Saturday, depending on weather.
His aircraft and the others will demonstrate formation flying and other stunts in a plane that was originally made to train young men for war. The Beechcraft T-34 military trainer was built from 1953-58 and was used for aerobatics and combat training, McGaughy explained.
While folks won’t be lucky enough to take a ride in this nimble craft, they will get a chance to see it in action with several other of the trainers scheduled to fly alongside the Shelbyville pilot.
McGaughy has been flying since 1977 for pleasure and being in the aircraft repair business keeps him close to what he loves doing. He didn’t always make a living with aircraft, working in the computer business before then, but for the last 12 years, he’s been involved with World War II aircraft and the piston driven planes designed and built after the war. He’s operated out of Shelbyville for the past 10 years.
Up in the air
The parachute is already in place, and it only takes a few moments of instruction to learn what to do in case of an emergency. Note to self: don’t pull that D-ring on the left unless you absolutely have to – just remember to open the canopy before you do …
It doesn’t take long for McGaughy to get the old girl started and running down the taxiway, waiting just for a few brief minutes at the end of Runway 18 to let the oil rise to the correct temperature.
Then, you feel the push of McGaughy at the throttle and we’re on our way. The pilot wasn’t kidding about the bumpy ride due to the winds, but it isn’t bad enough to send breakfast for a return trip.
Peaceful…for a moment
But once in the air, you tend to ignore all the quick rising and falling motion as you get your bearings. There’s a small plume of smoke visible at the base of Horse Mountain, and Shelbyville traffic doesn’t seem that bad from this height.
Then McGaughy heads back toward the airfield to demonstrate one of the maneuvers planned for Saturday – a low pass of the runway while trailing smoke.
He comes in low, releases the smoke and then banks hard to the left, creating enough of a g-force that it’s difficult to hold the video camera steady to get a good shot of the departing ground below.
He’s expecting at least five of the T-34s to show for Saturday’s event, explaining that there are still about 300 of the planes still taking to the air, but he said that the government doesn’t want people to fly them anymore, “so you can’t hardly buy any military aircraft now.”
“They would like to see them parked, put on display, but we want to keep flying them,” he said.
As a result, a lot of modern modifications have been made to the plane, such as the installation of GPS and other safety items.
“They’re a lot of fun to fly, it teaches you to fly formation, it’s training that enhances your skills,” McGaughy said, noting that to get his certification for formation flying was quite hard to master.
“You have to fly close and be exactly where you want to be at all times, so it teaches you a little bit of discipline and better control of the airplane,” he said.