Edwards Open House 1996

Chuck Firth

Originally published November 1996

October 19 was one windy day in this valley. Unfortunately, the annual event at the base was scheduled the same day. The day began with the wind blowing straight down runway 22 at about 20 knots. No problem. By 1530 it had swung around to 315, increasing in velocity to around 30 gusting to 36. Big problem. Needless to say the recommendation for anyone who flew in was a layover. A few braved the situation and made taxiway departures. When the taxiway is 6000 feet long you can do that.

An estimated 175,000 people braved the weather and showed up. The morning program got started with General Yeager making some noise in a T-38, followed by flight demonstrations of F-117, A-10, C-17, B-1, and B-2 aircraft. A Canadian flight team called the Northern Lights also performed in the morning and put on quite a demonstration. Definitely worth seeing if you get a chance. The afternoon was blown out as the surfers say. Not much flying except souvenirs, vendor cash drawers, and all the government-owned dust you could eat.

We were set up as usual in building 1600. A fine location considering the wind. Howard Judd and Vince Sei had the assignment to arrange the general aviation display and did a fine job. Not as many aircraft as in past years by request of the Air Force, but a good representation of what's out there. The best we could do for examples of the Glasair II and Cozy were the Oshkosh Grand Champions of 1996 and 1995. Guess that will have to do. Knowing the likely draw of all those Long EZ's and T-18's, the Air Force also put a B-2 and U-2 on display. I think we should sign pictures of ourselves next year like the big boys down by the -2's.

Assisting at the booth were Mike Pelletier, Ron Applegate, Russ Erb, Norm Howell, Gretchen Lund, Bill Grahn, and Ozzie Levi. We gave out lots of EAA information, answered questions from a few thousand passersby, and probably recruited a lot of new members. (I even gave away Mike's most recent copy of Sport Aviation and he won't forget that soon.) As usual, the people who end up joining EAA will wind up in other chapters since most are from outside the area. Maybe we should get a finders fee.

At any rate, it was a good day to get EAA in front of the public. And if you have not been out to Edwards in a few years, plan on a trip next year. It's the 50th for the Air Force and for supersonic flight. It will be big, really big. So big that it will take two days to do it all!

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Revised -- 11 April 1997