Seeing historic aircraft up close

2004 Vintage Aircraft Fly-In at Steamboat Springs Airport

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If you go What: Wings and Wheels in the Boat: Vintage Aircraft Fly-In and Classic Car Drive-In When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and 9 a.m. to noon, Sunday Where: Steamboat Springs Airport Cost: Free The Civil Air Patrol will be serving food and beverages. Parking is free and hourly city bus service is available from the Stock Bridge Transit Center.

At times, the lobby of the Steamboat Springs Airport feels like a clubhouse. Pilots stop in to check the weather, have a cup of coffee and talk about their favorite subject -- aviation. For those who own planes, flying is an all-encompassing lifestyle.

"It's more of a passion with us than a hobby," said Gerry Denofsky, owner of a 1960 Cessna 182. "It's not new, but I spend more money than I have to own it.

"To fly it, I sacrifice nearly everything else because I like to fly."

There are many pilots just like Denofsky -- people who have a passion for their planes and flying.

On Saturday and Sunday, pilots from across Colorado will land their babies on the runway of the Steamboat Springs Airport for the 2004 Vintage Aircraft Fly-In. They will be on hand to answer questions and show off their planes at this free event. In some cases, helicopter and airplane rides will be offered.

Even though some of the planes -- such as the T-6 Texan, a World War II fighter pilot training plane -- are designed to do aerobatics, no one will be going upside down this weekend.

"This is not an air show, merely an open house," Steamboat Springs Airport Manager Matt Grow said. "Kids love it because they get close to the aircraft."

A Tribute to the Troops is planned to augment the Fly-In.

"Hopefully, there will be a fly-by from military aircraft," Grow said. "But it has been difficult this year because so much equipment is overseas."

Visitors can expect to see home-built airplanes, a World War II Supermarine Spitfire --the plane that fought in the Battle of Britain -- and the TBM Avenger, a torpedo bomber that has been to Steamboat before.

"Some of these planes you'll see are worth millions and some, like the TBM Avenger, take a crew of volunteers to maintain," Grow said. "People will give their time because they want to be a part of it."

The Fly-In also will host several remote-control airplanes that take three or four people to carry.

"They truck them in on horse trailers," Grow said.

Perhaps the most exciting plane for aviation enthusiasts is the potential visit of the Colorado-based Adam A500.

"This is a plane we've been trying to get here for a long time," Grow said. "It's really exciting. The plane is built in Colorado (at the Centennial Airport), and it's changing the face of aviation."

Grow also is ready for the unexpected.

"Every year, aviation enthusiasts see our poster in an airport somewhere, and we end up seeing something cool we weren't expecting," Grow said.

This is the first year the Fly-In will be paired with a vintage car show.

"Typically, it's the same crowd that's into vintage planes and vintage automobiles," Grow said. Anyone who wants to display a vehicle is welcome to show up Saturday.

The 2004 Vintage Aircraft Fly-In is part of an annual tradition at the airport that hasn't happened since 2001 because of construction on the runway.

"This is a good way to invite the community to the airport," Grow said. "A lot of people don't know who we are or what we do."

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