The 42nd Annual Simsbury Fly-In (and Car Show and Food Truck Festival, too)

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Photos by Scott Zeno and Ken Kula

The 42nd Annual Simsbury Fly-In (and Car Show and Food Truck Festival, too) was held on Sunday, September 25, 2022. The airport Is operated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity, with a mission “To preserve a vibrant aviation community in a friendly hometown atmosphere and to foster the future generations of aviators.” Their Fly-In lived up to their mission statement, being a community event with plenty of positive aviation enthusiasm and examples of the area’s friendly businesses and people.

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The day began partly sunny, with a bright sunrise at the airfield nestled next to the Farmington River. The Heublein Tower at Talcott Mountain State Park served as an unlit beacon in the background of the approach end of runway 3. Although a high overcast crept in, and although a few rain showers appeared during the late hours of the event, a great assortment of aircraft flew in and took part in the aviation portion of the Fly-In.

Nearby Bradley Approach Control handled the arrival sequence; a published procedure provided assistance for arriving aircraft to get in line. The pending rain in weather forecasts undoubtedly kept attendance down, but there were plenty of instances in the morning when two or even three aircraft were in the arrival pattern at the same time. Helicopter and a T-6 Texan, offering aircraft rides, used a different flight pattern to allow for an efficient traffic flow too.

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Some special flight presentations of the Fly-In occurred during a 30-minute window around lunchtime. The airport was closed for arrivals while a Kaman KMAX helicopter gave a short flying demonstration, as did an Acquiline drone. A Cessna Skyhawk picked up and later dropped an advertisement banner right in front of the crowd. Steve Bacon’s Magni Gyro SRL M16 T-Trainer made multiple passes down the runway too.

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Pipistrel aircraft was represented by a pair of aircraft on the airport. The ALPHA Trainer is an LSA (Light Sport Aircraft) twin seat airplane designed for LSA training. The exciting ALPHA Electro is a new electric-powered trainer, with up to an hour or so endurance for flight training. This all – electric trainer flew short demonstration flights twice during the day, capped off with a surprisingly steep rate of climb at their endings. Ultimately, a one hour flight time, plus a 30-minute FAA-required reserve capability will be realized.

Learn2Fly LLC uses the Pipistrel ALPHA, various Cessna and Piper single engine aircraft, a Piper J-3 Cub and a Cessna floatplane for training. A possible light twin and more are forecast too. Learn2Fly operates at three Connecticut airfields, Windham, Hartford Brainard and Haddam Goodspeed.

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An ICON A5, one of the first 100 built, was on display; it is based in nearby Candlewood Lake and is in the Light Sport Aircraft category. It can be operated in up to 1 ½ foot waves, and during weekends at the busy lake, can’t be operated due to boat traffic creating wakes that exceed this height!

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Early in the morning, a trio of powered parachutes flew off of the airport and buzzed around the area. One pilot later said that lessons were to be given during the 2 weeks after the fly-in at the airport. One can’t just strap a motor onto your back and take off without some in-depth instruction!

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Throughout the day, rides were sold in a trio of Robinson R-44 helicopters and in a North American T-6 Texan warbird. There was always a line for the helicopter rides, and the T-6 seemed to be constantly airborne too. Even during the 30 minutes of lunchtime flight demos, these aircraft gave some adventurous attendees a chance to experience the magic of flight.

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An interesting wrinkle in old-fashioned libraries, the Simsbury Public Library has a pair of 3-D printers in use, where you can build plastic 3-D models of aircraft for your collection and enjoyment. They displayed 10 different designs… capturing aspiring young minds interested in aviation design and manufacturing in a fun way! The local High School robotics team had a pair of robots performing feats, which included climbing a set of bars and scooping up and tossing a ball back to a human being.

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There were some 20 food trucks in attendance, allowing for a wide range of culinary delights. The line-up was open on Saturday (without the flying and automotive portions of the show) as well as Sunday’s full day of events.

Automobiles on display easily numbered 400, from downright antiques to some of the newest glamor cars from Alpha Romero, Maserati and Audi. There was even a yellow fire truck with the Facebook link of: “Big Yellow Parade Float”!

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The event was definitely dog-friendly, with well-behaved canines and their people mingling freely with spectators; a dog rescue organization featuring a group of friendly greyhounds attracted much attention too.

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Throughout the day, aircraft arrived and parked on the grass adjacent to the runway. Manufacturers that were represented included: Cessna, Piper, Grumman, Mooney, Taylorcraft, Pipistrel, Kaman, Aeronca, Sonex, Bellanca, North American, Robinson, Eurocopter, Van’s, Magni, BGD, Lake, Zenith, Ozone, and ICON. Some of the model names included Skyhawk, Buccaneer, Texan, ALPHA, Challenger, Cherokee, Cub, Widgeon, Skylane, Colibri, Citabria, Magic and Super Hawk.

The 140-plus volunteers did a great job making sure everything was safe, especially near moving airplanes and automobiles. The runway is quite close to spectators, and many people got their first real “up close and personal” brush with aviation – both with the aircraft and with their owner-operators. As the Fly-In (and Car Show and Food Truck Festival) has been the Simsbury Airport’s major fundraiser since 1980, it put on its best appearance and offered loads of opportunities for people young and old to experience the thrill of flight and the excitement of aviation history.

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 32 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site, and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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