Visitors to George Vose’s third fly-in here Sunday came from as far away as Berlin, Germany; Yarm, England; and Homer, Alaska.
Vose, 93, who still has his health certificate and still teaches people to fly, said 43 people and about 10 or 11 airplanes attended the event at his home here.
The aircraft were all fairly standard light single-engine airplanes, mostly Cessnas with a couple of Pipers and Citabrias mixed in.
At least two of the aircraft stayed at Vose’s development, three runways in an “H” pattern just northeast of the adobe home he built.
People can build homes with attached hangars next to the runways, a development he likes to call an air ranch – a variation in the name airpark, which are normally located in larger cities.
A separate runway leads directly to Vose’s home.
Gabby Dienemann of Berlin came the furthest. Her son Johannes is an American Airlines captain living in the Dallas area who likes to visit South County.
Adam Lickock lives in Yarm in northern England but visits his property in Terlingua Ranch frequently.
And David Sanderson and Rhonda Ecker were here from their home in Homer, Alaska, south of Anchorage.
In addition to a potluck luncheon, pilots participated in ribbon-cutting activities. Each in turn would climb to altitude above the home and toss out a ribbon – actually a roll of toilet paper. He would lose altitude and circle back to cut the ribbon with a wing.
Vose, who learned to fly in 1941, was assigned to Sheppard Air Force Base at Wichita Falls during World War II as a civilian instructor but he said he hated Texas and never wanted to return.
However, on a trip to the Big Bend area later, he decided this was where he wanted to live and he eventually bought 1,600 acres on which he built his adobe house “almost completely by myself.”
Vose still spends time at his office at Alpine Casparis Municipal Airport, teaching would-be pilots in his Cessna 172.
He is temporarily confined mostly to a motorized wheelchair after a fall but said he hopes to become ambulatory soon.
Fly-ins used to be common among the pilot community but have become less frequent with the escalating costs of maintaining aircraft.
Pilots would all fly to some out-of-the-way bed and breakfast or other attraction for social gatherings.
The city of Alpine has invited pilots from around Texas to a fly-in Saturday at Casparis Municipal Airport. City Manager Erik Zimmer said the first arrivals could come in late morning but some may come earlier.
Some also could come from Oklahoma or New Mexico, he said.
Zimmer said he hopes several stay for a barbecue lunch and then come into town to look around.
Some may attend the football game between the Lobos and McMurry University at 6 p.m. Saturday at Jackson Field and hopefully stay overnight, he said.