Aviation festival landing in Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Several thousand people are expect to converge upon the Suffolk Executive Airport this weekend to celebrate the century since Wilbur and Orville Wright made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Visitors to the second annual Suffolk Fly-In, which kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday with Skydive Suffolk’s flag jump, will see antique aircraft, classic cars and World War II military vehicles.


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People will be coming by car and, weather permitting, by plane, said Kent Marshall, the airport’s executive director. An open invitation has been issued to dozens of general aviation airports in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland and ads have been placed in aviation publications distributed on the East Coast.

Frequently, when weather is good, small plane owners will fly in for an organized event, Marshall said. A fly-in held last month at the Suffolk airport drew a couple of aviators from as far away as Texas and Iowa.

&uot;We’re hoping at least 50 airplanes will fly this weekend,&uot; Marshall said. &uot;We’re also hoping to draw a lot of local citizenry out for the day.&uot;

The event, coordinated by the Suffolk Airport Commission, will include demonstrations of radio-controlled aircraft by organizations from Hampton Roads and Danville. Shows begin at noon and 2 p.m. Sunday and noon on Sunday.

Skydivers will be practicing throughout the day, Marshall said.

The Fighter Factory, a company based at the airport that specializes in the restoration of World War II military prop aircraft, will display several planes throughout the weekend.

Other vintage military vehicles being displayed include rocket launchers, jeep personnel carriers and motorcycles.

Saturday’s events will be capped off with an old-fashioned dinner and dance featuring swing music under the stars. Tickets are $15 per individual and $25 per couple, which includes dinner. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m.; the hangar dance will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the airport or at the Suffolk Visitor Center.

The highlight of Sunday will be the Young Eagle flights, slated to run from 1-4 p.m. That event, sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, will give youngsters ages 8 to 17 the chance to learn how an aircraft works, take a flight over the city in a private plane and receive a special Wright Flyer endorsement certificate from the EAA. Participation in the Young Eagle program is free.