Today Was Kid's Day... Even For Adults
by ANN Associate Editor Rob Finfrock
July is a busy month in the aero-world... because it is
"bookended", in a sense, by two airshows. Of course, there's
Oshkosh near the end of the month (albeit slightly earlier than
normal this year)... but to get the month of July started out on
the right note, there's also the Northwest EAA Fly-In -- commonly
known as Arlington.
Arlington, of course, means Arlington, WA... a picturesque
community that's about a 30 minute drive north of Seattle. Each
year, the country's third-largest airshow occurs here, at an
airport nestled amongst towering pines and within a stone's throw
of the Pacific.
If I sound enthralled, it's because I am. For starters... it was
all of 59 degrees out when I got off the plane Wednesday morning.
Think about that... it's the first week in July. (The high
temperature for my hometown of Dallas, by comparison, was 93
today.) I could certainly handle more airshows with a climate like
Alas, with the cool temps came the rain... or, more accurately,
mist and fog. By the middle of the afternoon, the cloud deck had
lifted to about 2,000 ft AGL... but looking around the field
Wednesday, the first day of the show, there were a lot of empty
parking spaces on the field. The weather -- not unusual for the
Pacific Northwest -- did appear to keep some planes away.
Fortunately, if the past is any indicator, by the end of the
week the parking spaces should be full of a wide range of aircraft.
And already, an impressive list of exhibitors were set up on the
field. Columbia Aircraft, located 'just down the road' in Bend, OR,
have their display set up near the flightline; other exhibitors,
such as Cirrus, Mooney, and Symphony -- as well as a number of
LSAs, such as StingSport and Tecnam -- are represented by their
They aren't necessarily here to announce the newest, latest
creation from their respective manufacturers -- that comes later
this month, at Oshkosh. No, this show is all about the aircraft...
and the opportunity to reach out to interested buyers and
spectators alike. Several of those hearty souls milled about the
field Wednesday, taking the opportunity to get a closer look at the
planes and exhibits away from the larger weekend crowds, at their
This isn't a "trade" show, like Lakeland and Oshkosh. Don't get
me wrong... those are a LOT of fun, too, in their own ways
(especially OSH) but a lot of that fun is getting the inside
"scoop" on what new plane is under that tarp, or what's the latest
electronic gadget we'll soon be able to spend our money on.
Nope... Arlington is a fly-in. And if you need further proof,
consider this: on Wednesday, the largest demographic represented on
field -- at least, in seemed to me -- were children, ages 9-12 or
See, it's tradition here at Arlington... the first day of the
show, kids get in free... and they arrive en masse, as part of
organized groups and field trips.
Fly-in organizers make sure there are special events all day, to
teach those kids a little something about aviation... and if that
doesn't hook 'em, chances are the airshow later in the day will...
where the likes of such performers as John Mrazek in his Canadian
Harvard (above) and Bud Granley (below, in his Yak 55) demonstrate
just how much FUN you can have in this business.
In a time when GA needs all the friends and pilots it can get...
that's cooler than the weather.