National Air Races and EAA Fly-In 1996

Chuck Firth

Originally published November 1996

Well, we did it. Chapters 1000 and 49 managed to pull off a reasonably successful fly-in in conjunction with the IF1 races at Fox Field. The races were fast and exciting and we got a good sized group of aircraft for the fly-in. Among the fly-in aircraft were four Oshkosh grand champions. There were also lots of other things to see and do, including daily aerobatic demonstrations from powered aircraft, a glider, a gyroplane, and several large scale model aircraft. Also on Saturday the Long EZ Dash got in a heat with an expanded field of anything glass and numbering more than three constituting a class. But that's a story for another time.

On the ground, the Camarillo Connie was on display and also Bill Turner's DeHavilland DH-88 Comet. Both are in great condition and drew throngs. Classic cars and a bunch called the Rusty Relics who displayed an interesting bunch of old farm engines and tractors were tucked in close to the IF1 pit area. In Shuling Barnes' hangar we set up a display of projects, although somehow it was all metal or tube/rag. With all the composite stuff being built by 1000 we should have had at least one there. Also, our information/souvenir booth started out at the base of the tower but switched to in front of the terminal on Saturday. Better foot traffic and a place to display representative chapter aircraft were what prompted the move. And naturally, vendors of stuff everywhere. Something for everyone. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 attended over the three days.

Of course, we had a few scares and a few problems along the way. The first big winter rainstorm of the year arrived two days before the event. All of us were watching the Weather Channel closely for a few days anticipating clearing skies but wondering what to do if they didn't. The Santa Ana's had been blowing too and were a concern. However, the rain actually worked to our advantage, keeping the dust down. We also had some difficulty coordinating the times for closing and opening the field. This was a sore point for some of the fly-in aircraft and we will definitely do this better next year. We also had to assert some authority with the local CAP cadets who helped with parking, but what the hey, we can take on 14 years olds any day and sort of get things to go our way. Last, getting out the vote for the fly-in aircraft judging took some effort, but eventually got done. All of us who worked on the fly-in have suggestions for next year we'll try to incorporate.

We did pretty well at all our planned activities as well. The food concession sold out each day at just about closing and our picture buttons turned out to be a good draw for the information/ souvenir booth. Russ Erb's Pedal Pitts was quite an attraction for kids and is now immortalized on a couple hundred kids' buttons. We might have to pay a royalty in the future to use it. (Hey, I like that idea! But the IRS would probably find out -- ed) Finally, the banquet was fun if just a little disorganized. The tables were arranged as haphazardly as I've ever seen and there was also problem with lighting on one end of the hangar. An air racing pylon, cleverly disguised as a light pole, was dragged in from its GPS located position to help out in the hangar. Add to that no heat and it could have gone south fast. But the food was good, the drinks cold, and everyone was up after a good day at the races. Heat turned out to be no problem with that many pilots swapping lies. And picture in the middle of this, the partially restored Mystery Ship once flown by Pancho Barnes. I'm not sure how Pancho would have taken all the goings on; possibly not enough drinking and definitely too few off color jokes, but lots of stories about flying might have pleased her.

I'll have more next month on the race results, who won for best fly-in aircraft, and whether or not we made any money on this venture. We will also recognize the many chapter members who helped make the event a success.

Congratulations to Team NEMESIS

First Annual Fox Field National Air Races Champion!

Nemesis Photo

Featuring Jon and Trisha Sharp

Proud EAA Chapter 1000 Members

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Revised -- 11 April 1997