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Suffolk hosts the Virginia Regional Festival of Flight

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Suffolk Executive Airport hosted the 17th annual Fly-In sponsored by the Virginia Aviation Council (VAC) on May 31 and June 1, 2014. The event was blessed with beautiful weather, which may account for the approximately six-fold increase in airplane registrations over last year’s event when the conditions were blustery and bitter cold.

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As of 2:00 p.m. on the 31st, there were 125 planes of different sizes, shapes and uses on the ground for all to see. While some were government- or company-owned, the vast majority of the planes on exhibit were privately owned.

The most significant attraction for pilots attending a Fly-In is having their airplanes judged by a committee against specific standards for each class of airplane. The judges are required to have a broad background in aviation, aircraft maintenance or home building and training in judging standards.

The objective of the Virginia Aviation Council, Inc. is to promote aerospace education and understanding of “recreational aviation” through hosting an annual Regional Festival of Flight. “Recreational aviation” encompasses airplanes, fun, families, building, restoring, flying, exploring and learning, according to a flyer released by the VAC.

To that end, speakers will present aviation forums and workshops, many approved for FAA Wings or AMT credit on both days. Additionally, for the first time, 10 exhibitors will be showing and demonstrating Unmanned Aerial Systems, commonly known as drones.Last but not least, The Commemorative Air Force’s Red Tail Squadron brought their Rise Above traveling exhibit and their rare P-51C to the Fly-In. All sixth grade students from Suffolk Public Schools were treated to a field trip to the airport to view this historically important exhibit.

The Virginia Aviation Council is an IRS 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation made up entirely of volunteers. Some key moments is their history include, but are not limited to:

  • 1997: 1st Fly-In – held at Dinwiddie County Airport in Petersburg, VA
  • 2002: 638 aircraft flown in; 4,000 in attendance
  • 2003: reduced participation due to Hurricane Isabel
  • 2004: event cancelled due to Hurricane Ivan
  • 2008: event moved to Suffolk Executive Airport

Gate hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday for drive-in public. The cost is $10 per person, including campers. Children 13 & under are FREE. Parking is also free. A pancake breakfast is held each morning from 8 – 11 a.m. each day.

If you can’t get there on Sunday, mark your calendar for next year’s event: May 30-31, 2015.

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