After a rough and tumble night of bronc and bull riding Friday at the Gary Hardt Memorial Spring Rodeo, the Aero Fair Saturday offered visitors a soft place to land. With near perfect weather, it was nothing but smooth flying throughout the event.
Members of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) #810 offered visitors breathtaking flights over the area for $25.
Some 155 passengers, 37 percent from out of town, took advantage of the deal and got a unique view of the Mogollon Rim.
Itinerary for the flights included the Tonto Natural Bridge, the Pine-Strawberry area, and the Rim, said EAA President Robert Henley.
Eight pilots volunteered their time for the event, all in an effort to get more people interested in flight. Since the Aero Fair began, the EAA has loyally participated for three reasons, Henley said: the first, to introduce people to aviation; the second, it is fun; and finally, it raises money for nonprofits.
For Henley, flying has been in his blood since he was a boy. Henley’s father was a flight instructor during World War II and then ran a crop spraying business.
When Henley was finally old enough to drive, he decided instead to learn to fly.
“I actually owned an airplane before I owned a car,” he said.
At 15 years old, Henley paid $900 for a plane and begged his father to teach him to fly.
Today, Henley owns several planes, including a 1947 Bonanza, a 1930 American Eaglet built by his dad, and several planes that are currently being restored.
Other pilots from around Arizona showed off their passion for flight by flying their aircraft into the airport.