Airplanes Swooping Into Town For Aerofair

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Rim country residents will be able to walk right out on the tarmac to view vintage and experimental aircraft at the annual Payson Aerofair from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Payson Municipal Airport.

Aircraft from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War will be on display, as will be the world's smallest prop aircraft. Called a BD-5, the tiny, pusher prop-driven craft would fit nicely into a six-foot by eight-foot cubicle, airport manager Ted Anderson said.

Besides helicopter and demo aircraft rides, attendees also will be able to take the controls of a flight simulator. For the less adventurous, a number of groups and organizations will have displays set up, including the Classic Car Club, the 4-Wheel Drive Club, the Quad Runners, the Tractor Club, the Stationary Engine Group, custom Harley Davidson Motorcycles, Civil Air Patrol, and the Payson fire and police departments.

Paul Pitkin, president of the 56-member Payson Pilots Association, said his group's rides, mostly aboard 172 Cessnas, will last 20 to 30 minutes. "We'll fly out over the Tonto Natural Bridge and then back in over Payson," Pitkin said.

The group also is planning a 1 p.m. memorial fly-by in honor of longtime member Doris Henry of Payson Aviation who died recently.

"We're not as precise or fast as the Blue Angels," he said, "but it will be that kind of an activity."

Several slurry drops also will be performed by a single-engine turbo air tanker from Marsh Aviation of Mesa. According to Bill Walker, executive vice president of Marsh, slurry is a gum-thickened fire retardant that sticks to the plants and then releases a non-flammable, fire-smothering gas when heated.

"It even contains a fertilizer to promote regrowth," Walker said.

Also on hand will be the Rim Country Flyers, a group of some 35 model airplane enthusiasts. The group will have a wide assortment of model aircraft on display, spokesperson Frank Bigelow said, and it also will do some flying if weather and traffic permit.

"Our aircraft range in size from sport models with a 48-inch wingspan up to larger craft with wingspans of 6 feet or so," Bigelow said. The radio-controlled airplanes have the very same controls that full-sized planes do, and most of them are powered by two-cylinder internal combustion engines.

The Aerofair will be preceded by a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, beginning at 7 a.m. Other food offerings will include Indian fry bread, kettle corn, cotton candy and a bake sale.

Anderson reports that the long-range weather forecast is promising, and that the farthest request for aviation campground reservations so far has come from Oregon. For more information, call Anderson at 472-4748.

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