Aero Fair Attracts 100 Planes, Crowd

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Each child's hand waved a small flag and held on tight to their balsa wood airplane at the Payson 2008 Aero Fair on Saturday in honor of our military.

The reservists from the Blackhawk helicopter A-12 285 Aviation Unit of the Army National Guard in Papago had folks in and out of their helicopter all day.

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A large crowd was on hand to see the airplanes and enjoy other activities at this year's Payson Aero Fair.

"It's personally rewarding to come here with this robust aircraft and be here with my comrades," Ken Twigg said about bringing the helicopter to the Aero Fair in Payson.

More than 100 planes flew in from all over Arizona for the festivities. The new Diamond, Cirrus and Cessna airplanes were a hit with the pilots.

Children climbed into the cockpit of the Short Skyvan and learned how to fly their kite helicopters. Airplanes on display included a 1930 Replica Eaglet, 1970 Cessna 195, a bright yellow RV and Citabria, a Pitts biplane, and, of course, the Staggerwing.

Larry Perkins the pilot of the 1943 Beech Staggerwing airplane said the winners of the Payson Village Center's free ride were Elizabeth Wilson, Gary Smith and Carole Haymon.

"We couldn't have had three better passengers." Larry flew them over Payson and up to Pine.

Gary Smith was so excited he did not sleep after his night shift and got to the airport at 7 a.m. for the 9 o'clock flight. His wife said. "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him and he was thrilled."

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Payson Village Center's 1943 Beech Staggerwing is a real crowd-pleaser at the Aero Fair. Some lucky raffle winner got a ride of a lifetime in this flying machine.

Eight different airplanes took 155 people in the Experimental Aircraft Association airlift. The winds cooperated and planes flew until after 1 p.m.

One young man said, "I'm afraid of flying, but my grandpa really wanted to go, so I came with him." After the flight he said. "That was OK. It's really beautiful up there."

People ate all day -- from breakfast with the Payson Pilots Association to lunch with the Boy Scouts' barbecue. There were hot dogs, candy, ice cream and bakery goods. Comments heard around the airport included, "The breakfast was delicious" and "There were so many different food vendors."

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Kyle Edwards beams as he sits in the pilot's seat of this Huey Chopper, a helicopter used extensively during the Vietnam War. Hueys were used for MedEvac, command and control, and air assault; to transport personnel and material; and as gun ships. Considered to be the most widely used helicopter in the world, with more than 9,000 produced from the 1950s to the present, the Huey is flown today by about 40 countries.

The Civil Air Patrol cadets from Payson and Show Low worked hard all day directing and moving airplanes and keeping everyone safe. Car traffic flowed smoothly under the direction of the Payson Volunteer Police with shuttles and vans taking folks right to the entrance and back to their cars.

Fred Carpenter kept the crowd entertained with 40s, 50s and military music. More than 2,500 people went silent at 11 a.m. when the national anthem played for the Payson Honor Guard.

Beth Myers from the Payson Regional Airport Authority said, "Put May 16, 2009 on your calendar for the next, great Payson Aero Fair."

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