The airport is hosting its forty-fourth annual fly-in June 9, 10, 11. The fly-in is a open to the public and people are encouraged to come out and see the planes.

Pilots from the Texas Chapter of the Antique Aircraft Association will begin landing at the Gainesville Municipal Airport Friday beginning about noon. The event lasts all weekend, but Saturday is the best day for residents to get a close look at the planes, talk to the pilots, and watch fly-bys.

Airport director Matt Quick said turnout for the fly-in is usually pretty high.

“If the weather’s good, we could easily expect 200-300 planes,” he said. Rainy weather and unsafe flying conditions have kept some pilots away in the past. But the weather is expected to be good this weekend.

The Saturday morning event kicks off at 7 a.m. with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Kiwanis.

Terry Wallace, president of the Texas Antique Aircraft Association said although the event is not an air show, it is a good chance for the public to see a lot of unusual aircraft.

“There’ll be radial engine planes, biplanes, open cockpit planes,” he pointed out. There will also be WACO planes, Wallace said.

WACO planes were built by the Weaver Aircraft Company which ceased to exist after 1946. There are still quite a few of these planes flying today and there is something of a mystique about them.

Many of the planes which will be flying in this weekend are from the 1930s and 1940s.

Pilot Jim Austin of Fort Worth said earlier that pilots and antique aircraft enthusiasts come to these events to, “...kick tires, see old friends, buy needed parts and,” to find someone who has come up with a way to fix or repair parts that are no longer manufactured.

The Texas Antique Aircraft Association is a group of Texas aircraft enthusiasts affiliated with the Antique Airplane Association Inc. According to Austin, the AAA is the world’s oldest antique and classic airplane organization.

The association web site claims that early in the 1950s and 1960s AAA leaders and members held several standards meetings to work up a fair and logical system of categories for aircraft judging and awards.

Aircraft registration begins at 9 a.m. Friday. Pilots can enter their aircraft in several competitive categories including Antique, Classic, Experimental and Military.

Pilots compete for 17 different awards: best open cockpit or longest distance flown, for instance.

There is also an award for the oldest pilot and oldest aircraft. Pilots add their age to the age of their planes and the pilot with the highest number wins an award. Judges use the same formula to determine the youngest pilot and plane at the event.

Many of the planes are the beautiful, lovingly-restored aircraft of serious hobbyists. The pilots who own and fly these planes call themselves “Antiquers” and they don’t mind showing off their handiwork.

An awards ceremony and banquet is scheduled for the group at 6:30 Saturday night.

There will also be a “fly” market of vendors offering tee shirts and airplane parts and accessories on Saturday.

Wallace said the fly market is a chance for pilots to find some good buys on parts that are often difficult or impossible to find elsewhere.

If you want to talk to pilots and see their planes up close, don’t wait until Sunday. Wallace said the best day to see the planes is definitely Saturday, although a fair number usually arrive Friday.

The pilots will begin departures at 8 a.m. Sunday morning.

“We hope we have a good turnout. It’s a great chance for the public to come out and see some unique aircraft,” Wallace said.

Recommended for you