The weather forecast for the week included a chance of rain every day, but the rain held off until Sunday night. It was a bit warm and humid, but that is to be expected this time of year. It appears the weather did preclude a number of attendees this year, those that did show up were treated to a greatly expanded camping area down by the river along with expanded overflow parking and camping improvements along the east side of the runway.
The CAF C-46 “Tinker Belle” was in attendance and is about the largest plane that has operated at the Fly-In. This plane is BIG . . . Warriors and Warbirds, Inc. is an organization that was formed to preserve the history of aviation, provide an educational tool to the community and assure the memory of those who gave their lives in service to their country does not perish. Tinker Belle is based very close to us in Monroe, NC.
I had the pleasure of helping the crew of Tinker Belle with some operational logistics. They are a great bunch of volunteers doing the hard work of keeping a very large piece of our nations history alive.
We were graced by the presence of another special warbird this year. The CAF P-51 Mustang “Old Red Nose” was here. This Mustang was delivered in 1945 and served both the US Army Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force. This beautiful plane also has two seats and was giving rides and spectacular fly-by’s!
I also had the opportunity to escort and help with the “51” and thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know Dr. Stan Musick who was flying the plane. He is a personable and friendly fellow that loves talking planes and took a great interest in giving everyone a great ride.
It takes an army of volunteers to successfully put on an event as large as the Triple Tree Fly-in. Each one takes on a very important role from landscaping to taking out the trash, cleaning bathrooms, making food, parking planes and providing air traffic advisories.
I have had the pleasure to serve on the aircraft parking and air operations group for the Triple Tree Fly In for a number of years. Every member of this group takes great pride in marshaling the planes safely and quickly to their respective parking or camping spot at the Triple Tree Aerodrome. This is a very high stress environment where each operation involves the care and safe guidance of very different aircraft and associated performance & characteristics, pilots of various levels of training and proficiency – on a landscape that changes from being very smooth and level to areas that are still a bit lumpy with various degrees of slope.
Our group leader is a selfless and dedicated fellow with a heart as big as the C-46! Ken has spent countless hours over the years building the signage, sewing the flagging and helping create the operations plan for our event.
This year, after every plane had departed, the signs and flags had been put up and the Aerodrome returned to normal, the P-51 was still around waiting to give a few more rides. We decided to ride down and visit for a bit and Ken was offered an opportunity to sit in the cockpit and look it over. We had just been talking about how cool it would be to take it for a flight – just like we had been witnessing all weekend. He sat in that seat and was beaming like the little kid he is at heart . . . making motor and gun noises and pretending to be in the middle of a dogfight!
He then found the canopy lever and proceeded to close it over his head . . . really taking in the moment and feeling of what it must have been like to fly in a plane that we have all dreamed of flying one day. I made the joke that he had locked himself in and wasn’t coming out until he was promised a ride . . . he had a big laugh . . . but someone heard . . . and someone then commented . . . “you’re going to have to get out to sign the paperwork” . . . our jaws collectively dropped . . . because we realized a dream was about to come true . . . !!
The next hour was all grins and giggles and we had the best time watching our friend have his dream come true.
Aviation is such a special industry – where time can almost stand still while you travel from one place to another – leveraging your time to be more productive. It can provide opportunities for economical mass transportation of people and product to the corners of our earth – driving international commerce and hi-tech manufacturing engines. It can provide for the safety and well being of our nation serving our military in both defensive and offensive rolls.
We all dream, at some point in our lives about what it must be like to fly. To see what the birds see, to look at the inside of a cloud. Don’t be afraid to dream – your’s just may come true!
Vice President Aviation Accounts