Simsbury Connecticut’s Airport Open House Was Filled to Capacity!
Located about a fifteen minute car ride west of the Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, Simsbury Airport sits nestled in between a series of hills and short mountains. Located beside a country road which used to lead to tobacco fields, light industry has sprung up in the area around the airport… possibly because of the facility.
The airport was opened just prior to World War II, and was a civilian flight training facility during the war, providing pilots for the nation’s burgeoning military flying operations. After the war ended, aircraft dealerships and flight training were the main focus at the airport, although a Civil Air Patrol Squadron called the airport’s sod runways home too. A single runway was finally paved, and in 1993, the Simsbury Airport Flying Club began operating the airport, offering fuel, hangar space, flight training and more services. It’s a quick flight to the Boston, Providence or New York City areas from Simsbury, not to mention a quick hop to Hartford, Connecticut’s capital city.
For the 33rd time, the airport and the Flying Club hosted its annual Open House, which has expanded into an aircraft fly-in, antique and modern car show, and a food truck gathering too. A single-day event, Sunday September 22nd offered warm and clear weather conditions, which attracted an overflow amount of aircraft, vehicular traffic, and spectators. The single 2205 ft. by 50 ft. runway was busy for most of the day, except for an hour and a half around midday, when the airport closed and a short presentation of some fun and interesting aviation displays were offered.
Although plans were in place for parking and pedestrian traffic, the surrounding roads got choked with autos by late morning, and crowds might have been even larger if the plans worked smoother. As it was, the spectators saw a series of interesting aviation displays which included…
AT- 6 World War II Training Aircraft and Robinson Helicopter rides
An aerial Banner Tow Pickup and Drop-off demonstration
A Silverlight Aviation AR-1 Gyrocopter demonstration flight
A Kaman KMAX helicopter on display.
A LifeStar Medivac Helicopter on display, with arrival and departure during the Open House
The morRadio Control Model Airplane Aerobatics
The Yankee Clippers Formation Flying Team
Free seminar symposiums by outstanding presenters
There were scores of planes to gawk at, with plenty of aviators to answer questions about how things fly, careers paths, and to convey the fun of owning and/or flying an airplane. Aircraft judging was performed in the following categories too (the winning type is in parentheses).
Homebuilt Aircraft – (Mark Scott – Avipro Bearhawk)
Light Sport and Ultralight Aircraft – (Ward Terrence – Jabiru Calypso)
Contemporary (Vintage 1970 to Present) (Bob Cipolli – Aviat A-1B)
Classic – (Vintage Aviation – SOCATA TB-10)
Warbirds – (Harland Avezzie – PT-23A)
Special (One aircraft deserving special recognition) (Bob Welch – Cessna 175)
Grand Champion Vintage Aviation – (SOCATA TB-10)
Throughout the day, an AT-6 Texan was buzzing about, giving rides in a real warbird. There were helicopters in abundance too, as more than one Robinson helicopter also provided an aerial view of the airport and surrounding area for passengers.
At one point, five aircraft were on final to the airport from the south… one well-executed go around by a Hatz biplane allowed just the right amount of room for the other four arrivals. The aerial advertising banner pick up and drop off went without a hitch, spectators are rather close to the runway, and the banner was arrayed just beyond the far side of the asphalt. That’s something you don’t see too often.
Kaman’s K-Max helicopter is in production again, and one operated by the company sat on static display, surrounded by curious onlookers. The helicopter has the unique inter-meshing twin-rotor system developed by Charlie Kaman in nearby Bloomfield Connecticut, where the assembly plant is located.
A Life Star MBB-BK 117C-2E helicopter arrived and departed the field during the morning, the nimble helicopter with a surprisingly small diameter rotor was open to spectators to look at for a few hours, but it departed in the early afternoon, ready for its next assignment.
This Fly-In is the major yearly fundraiser for the airport, and by the size of the crowds, it should allow the facility and its flying club a fair bit of fiscal support for the coming year of operation. I was fun to see families enjoying a day out among airplanes and cars, carrying their lunch that they had just bought. The small size of the airport brings the flying activity rather close to you too, and hopefully the Simsbury Flying Club will pick up additional members and airplanes at their field because of the fly-in. That way, there’ll be a 34th Annual Fly In in September of next year too.