By Jean Schurman
Loop-the-loops and car engines revving up, that will be part of the sights and sounds happening at the Ravalli County Airport this Saturday, June 24th. It’s the second annual Wings & Wheels ‘Freedom to Dream’ Fly-In and car show. The event is made possible by several businesses throughout the valley, according to the ramrod of the show, Dave Hedditch.
This is the seventh year for the fly-in. Hedditch said people will fly in from all over western Montana, eastern Idaho, and even beyond. Last year, the BitterRodders Car Club approached the Pilots’ Association at the airport to see if they could partner up and put on a car show out on the grass while the fly-in was happening.
“It was a natural fit, we meshed well,” said Hedditch.
Mary Lemons is a member of the BitterRodders and flies out of the airport. She said there were 80 cars in the show last year but they are expecting around 100 cars on Saturday. The cars will ‘cruise’ on Friday night through Corvallis, possibly Victor, and finish up driving down Hamilton’s Main Street. On Saturday, they will be lined up on the grass to the west of the runways and Choice Aviation. There will be a people’s choice Best of Show award given, as well as a few other awards.
The Fly-In will have some competitions also. There will be a flour bombing run where pilots have to hit a target with a bag of flour. There’s also going to be a ‘spot’ landing competition. Pilots have to land closest to a designated line but cannot land short of the line. Hedditch said this is very competitive and it’s difficult to not land before the line. There will also be a ping pong ball drop for the kids with prizes in some of the balls.
From 7 to 11 a.m. a pancake breakfast will be served. Cost for this is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. This is the only charge for the day’s activities. During the time breakfast is being served, the planes that are in the airshow will be on display, as well as other planes. The pilots, who love to talk about their planes, will be there to visit with also.
At 11am, the airshow will begin. Three different shows will take to the skies. Hedditch said he has been working closely with the FAA to ensure the safety of the spectators, and the fliers. He has drawn out a diagram of everything on the Hamilton Airport and will have security people keeping people in the designated areas which is basically everything on the west side of the taxi way and the runways. The airspace has been blocked as well. He said that Troy Hunter of Ennis will be the air boss and will monitor the area and the radios to make sure no unsuspecting aircraft puts anyone in danger.
The airshow is actually three airshows. The Legacy Flight Museum is based in Rexburg, Idaho. They will be bringing Bob Hoover’s Famous ‘Ole Yeller’ P-51D Mustang, and the North American T-6 Texan which was used to train pilots for combat in World War II. A plane ride for a valley veteran will be raffled off this week. Contact a Pepsi dealer or the airport for more information.
Brad Wursten’s Power Addiction Airshow will feature powerful performance airplanes made from state of the art materials including carbon fiber. He flies a MXS-R made by MX Aircraft that is designed for the aerobatics but only weights 1,100 pounds. The engine, a 385HP Lycoming, can reach a top speed of over 300 mph and roll rate at 420 degrees per second, and a “G” loading at +/- 15 “G”s, per Wursten’s website.
The final participant in the airshow is Danny Sorensen’s Golden Age Airshow. This will feature a BF9-2 custom biplane that has been designed specifically for airshow performances. Styled in the manner of a 1930’s biplane, the plane is a modern day high performance machine that has a wingspan of 21 feet and is 20’3” long and can reach a top speed of 175 mph.
There may be a few other unique aircraft on display. Hedditch is hoping Life Flight will be able to come down as well as a ‘stagger wing’ airplane and an ‘Alexander Eagle Rock’ plane.
With 70 hangers at the Ravalli County Airport, this airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the region. Saturday’s Wings & Wheels offers the public a chance to see what the airport has to offer as well as have some fun and watch a thrilling air show.
For more information, go to www.wingsandwheelsairshow.com.