The rain threw a wrench in things, but the annual Golden West Regional Fly-In made a successful switch from a three-day aerobatics air show to a free one-day event designed to introduce children to aviation.
Approximately 60 airplanes and 600 people stopped by the Yuba County Airport in Olivehurst on Saturday to watch formation flying, learn about piloting drones and see the fourth annual Experimental Aircraft Association aircraft competition.
The event began in 1993 as a fly-in before making the switch to the airshow format in 1995, but due to the cost of paying to bring in aerobatics teams and the desire to focus the event on pilots, education and safety, the fly-in format made more sense this year, airport manager Mary Hansen said.
“It’s more of a hometown fun event rather than a large entertainment venue that we’ve been doing,” Hansen said. “We want to focus more on aviation safety and fun with friends.”
The safety aspect was highlighted in seminars, Young Eagles flights, the EAA competitions and the drone hanger.
David McCreary, a teacher at C.O.R.E. Aerospace STEM Academy in Marysville, set up a racetrack, and his students demonstrated their piloting skills by flying through Hula Hoops and around obstacles.
“What we’re into doing is giving a basis of education through (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) via aviation,” McCreary said.
The rain that kept some pilots away and sent people under cover benefited the drone demonstrations because many people ducked inside and stuck around to watch and learn about drone piloting and safety, McCreary said.
Despite the weather, some enjoyed the cooler temperatures over the triple-digit heat of previous years when the event was held in June. Caley Wesly, for one, is a fan of the new time of year and smaller format.
“It’s cozy and more homey,” she said as her two children, Wyatt, 4, and T.J., 2, danced in the rain with their grandmother, Pasty Wesly, as her husband and father-in-law checked out a Kitfot airplane. The whole family comes from an aviation background and made the trip from Reno.
Gary Booth of Plumas Lake braved the weather by flying his custom-built 1937 Pietenpol Air Camper from Lincoln. Booth build the plane over the course of 41⁄2 years as a tribute to his father, Merv Boothe, who was a woodworker.
Exposed wood struts, a canvas body and Harley Davidson Sportster Wheels made for a unique sight as it soared through the air powered by a 100-horsepower Corvair engine during the flower bomb drop competition.
“I quit flying in 1984 but this was my ticket back into it,” said Booth, who finished building the machine in 2012. “My kids moved out, and I had more time.”