Is it a plane? Is it a bus?
What is the big, white airplane we will see at the Payson 2007 Aero Fair? It is the Short SC7 Skyvan, affectionately known as the "Short boxcar."
In the past, most airplane rides at the annual Aero Fair have been in a single engine aircraft. This year, you have your choice of a single engine plane or the twin engine Skyvan.
If you choose the Skyvan, you will go back in time when you step up into the plane from the door stairway and fly with a group of 10 to 12 others. You will know how the Short helps to train active duty military Special Forces in parachute operations.
How? By sitting in straight-backed chairs and looking out the rear of the plane from the open 22-foot cargo bay covered with a safety net during the ride.
Folks who have some difficulty with mobility, who are not able to get into the smaller airplanes, will have an opportunity to fly this year. If you can walk up the stairs by holding onto the rails, you can enjoy the experience of flying.
Pilot Jim Helms said, "I'll put in some more comfortable seats for these folks."
Here in Payson, in the world of horses and rodeos, our town is known for having the "oldest continuous rodeo."
Well, in the world of aviation, "This Short was built by the oldest continuing aircraft manufacturing company in the world," says Carl Damon, of Bravo Partners, Inc.
In 1903, the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilber, flew the first controlled-flight aircraft at Kill Devil Hill, near Kitty Hawk, N.C. in the airplane they invented. The Short Brothers, Horace, Eustace and Oswald, incorporated their business in 1908. They were commissioned by the Wright brothers to be the first to manufacture their airplane, the Wright Flyer.
Always the innovators, the Short Brothers also built the first twin-engine airplane and the first naval aircraft seaplane. The Short Brothers' company, now in Ireland, remains in the aircraft business today.
Knowing the history of this company and the type of aircraft they produced, Carl Damon, Jim Helms, and Dan Anderson of Bravo Partners, Inc. bought one of their airplanes, the Short SC7, to use for military parachute training, as well as hauling cargo.
Helms said, "We will haul cargo anywhere in the U.S."
Bravo Partners has a contract with the Department of Defense (DOD) to help train active duty Special Forces to test parachute operations. They spend a lot of time at Coolidge Municipal Airport and Marena Regional Airport here in Arizona. When flying for the DOD, they fly four to six trips a day and sometimes at night, taking the parachute jumpers up to 17,500 feet.
The Short SC7 Skyvan carries a crew of two, with 19 passenger seats. It has an un-pressurized square section fuselage that gave it the boxcar name, and large, straight twin tails.
Most propellers on airplanes we see here at the Payson Aero Show have two or three blades. This aircraft flies with a four-bladed props.
There were 153 Skyvans produced. The one owned by Bravo Partners, Inc. started flying in 1974 and has flown all over Asia for short-haul freight, charter and skydiving. You can still see the Thailand markings on the plane.
Carl Damon, of Bravo Partners, Inc. said, "While in Indonesia, it flew out of the jungle into many small island stops."
Because of its configuration and reverse thrusters, it can land in 1,000 ft., sometimes less. That's quite a short distance for such a big airplane.
"It's like an old John Deere tractor. It's easy to operate," said Helms.
This will be an opportunity of a lifetime, flying in the Short SC7. You may feel a part of history with the company that manufactured the Wright Flyer.
Flying around Payson shows you the beauty of our community and surrounding forest.
During the Aero Fair, rides in any of the airplanes cost $25 per person and $20 for an accompanying minor. Volunteer pilots of the EAA #810 provide this experience for the public.
Start your day with the PPA pancake breakfast and stay for lunch with the Boy Scouts barbecue plate.
In addition to the many airplanes, on display at the airport will be radio-controlled aircraft, 4-wheel vehicles and classic cars. With all the toys, photography, artwork, vendors, community organizations and displays, there's a lot to do at the Aero Fair.
Come to the airport for the Payson Aero Fair on Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and give yourself, or a loved one, the gift of flight.