By Rick Miller
Town of Great Valley Bicentennial officials were delighted with the turnout at Saturday’s Bicentennial Vintage Aircraft Fly-In — both with the number of pilots and visitors.
Hot temperatures didn’t deter people from coming and looking at the vintage aircraft — 1960 models and earlier.
At the other end of the airport runway, dozens of more modern and some experimental aircraft that had flown in were on display.
Great Valley Historian Marilyn Siperek said about 75 aircraft, vintage and more modern, were part of the airshow.
“There were already three vintage planes on the ground by the time I got here at 7 a.m.,” Siperek said. “Our volunteers have been so great.” Siperek’s late father, Neal Eddy, opened the 3,800-foot grass airstrip in 1985.
A 1942 North American AT-6 advanced Army trainer owned by Ralph Wolstenholme of Westfield, Pa., probably drew the most attention from visitors. Not only was the World War II trainer an impressive aircraft, when it took off in mid-afternoon, the pilot circled back for a loud, low-level fly-over.
“We’re overwhelmed with diversity, the different eras the planes represent and the great people we get to meet,” said Paul Carmichael, who helped organize and publicize the Bicentennial Vintage Fly-In.
“Everyone’s having a great time,” Carmichael said. “The volunteers are doing a great job.” Any army of volunteers with sky blue T-shirts directed visitors and helped park airplanes.
Vehicle parking, he said, “is a real group effort.” Extra volunteers were recruited to give everyone time to cool off in the shade or inside an airport hargar where there was a nice breeze.
Siperek likened the fly-in as a car show with airplanes. People came with cameras and cellphones to take photos of the vintage aircraft and their pilots.
Soon after each pilot landed, people gathered around the new air for a closer look and to chat with the pilot. The pilots seemed to hear about the fly-in by word of mouth.
Doug Majot of Wellsville flew in in a red and white Vans RV-4.
“This is a real hotrod,” he said proudly. “I fly in here regularly to eat at Katy’s Fly-In Restaurant across the street,” he smiled.
Waving many of the planes in to a stop or getting them back out onto the runway was the job of Rick Ehman, carrying flashlights with red lenses.
Ehman’s next role for the Great Valley Bicentennial is coordinating parade entries for the July 21 Old Home Days Parade. Entry forms are on the town’s historical website, or are available from Ehman by7 calling 945-4371.
Plans call for an old-fashioned Old Home Days Parade, Siperek said. It will include family groups, tractors, wagons, horses, marching bands and fire trucks.
Gary Bobsein of Cattaraugus flew in from his family airstrip just over the hills from Great Valley in a 1941 Taylorcraft BL-C, which was designed by the same man who designed the Piper Cub. “This is great,” he said, looking around at other vintage planes.
An original 1946 J-3 Cub was parked nearby.
“They taught a whole generation of pilots how to fly from the 1930s to the 1950s,” Carmichael said of the Piper Cub and its open cockpit.
His next project was sitting in a corner of the hangar, a 1941 Waco biplane that hasn’t flown since 1955.