Pilots put on a show at fly-in

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— Gerry Denofsky was walking around the Steamboat Springs Airport with a clipboard on Sunday inviting children to take a free ride in a small airplane. More than 30 children, ages 8 to 17, signed up, and Denofsky couldn't be more pleased.

He remembers his first flight as a 10-year-old.

"I rode my bike to a little airport outside Detroit and talked a pilot into giving me a ride in an Aeronca Champ," he said. "I was the kind of kid who made my parents drive out to the Detroit Metro Airport so I could hang on the fence and look at planes.

"They had to peel me off that fence."

The free flight for children will take place at 9 a.m. today as part of the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program. The Young Eagles program is designed to get young people excited about aviation.

Denofsky didn't have a hard time convincing children to sign up, because those who showed up for Sunday morning's Vintage Airplane Fly-In were die-hard fans of aviation.

When the rain let up, temperatures still hung around 46 degrees. Clouds were low in the sky, keeping planes on the ground. A handful of pilots stood in the airport lobby listening to the weather in Hayden and Craig and watching the sky through the window.

The only airplane rides visitors were able to take were in a pedal powered, child-size replica of Moose Barrow's Christen Eagle. Barrows built the replica himself, with a painted Nerf football for a nose cone.

Airport Manager Matt Grow sipped a cup of coffee to warm up.

"This is a hearty crew that came out today," he said. Almost 30 visitors were milling around the airport with jackets and gloves.

Both the past and the future of personal aircraft were parked side by side and they looked strangely alike.

Denofsky's Cessna 182, built in the 1960s, sat next to Cessna's latest creation -- the Cessna 206. The body was basically the same on both airplanes. The difference was in the cockpit.

All instrumentation in the Cessna 206 is projected onto digital screens.

"A lot of business jets are using the same avionics as this plane," Grow said. "The idea is that you could train on something like this and then step right into a jet -- only the jet is faster and flies higher."

The Cessna 206 was an unexpected visitor to this weekend's fly-in. The plane visited the Steamboat Springs Airport for a catalogue photo shoot and decided to stay for the event.

The sun finally broke through the clouds in the early afternoon and the crowds came with it. The pilots climbed into their planes and offered rides.

From the seat of a 1941 Stearman biplane, the air was cold. Pilot and passenger had a good view of the snow that fell overnight on the surrounding mountains.


-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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