Written and submitted by Bill Thomas, manager of Simsbury Airport
Over its 28 year history, the Simsbury Fly-In and Car Show has seen spectacular growth, and has become the largest event of its kind in New England. The Fly-In attracts as many as 700 beautiful airplanes and autos of virtually every kind, all displayed so spectators can see them up close and talk with their owners.
As with any Fly-In, much of the enjoyment is anticipating
what airplanes might arrive for viewing. But none will disappoint. There are always antiques dating back to the 20's,
many homebuilts, classics from the 50's, helicopters, light sport, and small
warbirds. The car display is just
as diverse, featuring everything from very old cars, trucks, fire engines and
ex-military vehicles to exotics such as Ferraris.
The Simsbury Fly-In features many additional attractions, including kids activities, aviation seminars, and flying demonstrations. A wide range of exhibitors represent local and regional businesses of many kinds - crafts, toys, T-shirts, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and lots of others. Dogs are welcome, too: there's even a watering station available for thirsty Fido.
This year's Simsbury Fly-In will be held on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Simsbury Airport (4B9). Many interesting activities have already been lined up, with more to come. Included this year will be rides in the RE/MAX hot air balloon (winds permitting), displays by Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, the New England Air Museum, Owl's Head Transportation Museum, and a demonstration of formation flying by the Yankee Clippers. Hartford Hospital's LifeStar medivac helicopter will be on display so spectators can see it up close and talk with its crew. There will be judging and trophies in many categories for owners of display airplanes and cars.
Commitments this year for display of new aircraft are still being made, but so far include Aviat Husky, Cubcrafters, Searey, AeroAT, Evektor, Cirrus, Rans, Flightdesign, Highlander, and Ximango motorglider. It is hoped that Terrafugia, the car that converts to an airplane, will be on display as well, if its FAA certification process permits.
In addition to the hundreds of older cars on display, there
will be at least 26 new cars available for viewing.
Of special interest to aviation history buffs will be a seminar presentation by the Connecticut Air and Space Museum about Gustav Whitehead, who arguably made a flight in the Bridgeport area two years before the Wright Brothers. The Whitehead aircraft has recently been the subject of increased speculation and debate. There were reportedly a number of witnesses who made written statements testifying to its first flight. To validate its potential for flight, an accurate replica of the Whitehead aircraft was built and has been successfully flown. We are hoping that aircraft can be brought to the Simsbury Fly-In for display. Meanwhile, the Smithsonian Institution vigorously stands by its conclusion that the Wrights were the first to fly. This is one of the fundamental controversies in aviation.
The Simsbury Fly-In and Car Show is presented by the
Simsbury Flying Club, with special help from the Porter and Chester Institute
for the auto portion of the event, and support from Experimental Aircraft
Association Chapter 324. More than
120 volunteers pitch in to help with everything from parking cars to greeting
visitors to flipping burgers.
Without them the show wouldn't go on.
Gates open at 8 a.m. First order of business is a pancake breakfast, hosted by chef Angelo Chirico,
whose offerings are often described as "the best I ever ate". Aircraft arrivals begin with first
light. Lunch is served over the
noon hour, including reasonably priced burgers and hot dogs, snacks, ice cream,
soda, water and other delicious items.
The event typically ends by 3 PM.
There's no admission charge. However, a donation would be greatly appreciated, and will
help keep Simsbury Airport in operation for another year. Parking is nearby, at a cost of $5,
with the Boy Scouts sharing the proceeds.
Handicapped parking is available, as are accessible restroom facilities.
Mark your calendars for Sunday, Sept 15. Meanwhile, check the Fly-in website at
www.simsburyflyin.com for updates, attractions, schedules, driving directions,
FAA approach procedures and other useful info. See you there!