Flyboys (and girls) fly in for EAA breakfastPublished 6:37pm Sunday, June 27, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Lee Holcomb, of Niles, comes out to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Annual Fly-In breakfast every year.
He’s logged 400 hours flying and his enthusiasm is evident when talking about the planes scattered about the tarmac at the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport.
But it’s off the scales when he gets a chance to sit inside a 1943, World War II era PT-19.
“During the war, they’d first put the pilots who’d never flown before or the stearman (in this plane),” said Dick Martin, of Granger, whose son Jim, owns the plane.
Martin said he takes the plane out “quite often.”
“(It’s) the open air,” he said of the joy of flight. “Open air is just a separate thrill.”
“I can’t think of anyone who would refuse a ride in that,” Holcomb said after just a few minutes sitting still inside the open cockpit.
The fly-in brought out pilots and planes of all shapes, sizes and designs Sunday morning and conditions seemed relatively good for flying, though an overcast of clouds moved in toward late morning.
Martin said he and his son keep their plane in a specially built hangar at the airport.
When they started work on the plane, he said the aircraft “looked like a big kit.”
Martin said he and his son built the plane using stock parts and the ornamentals, the stars on the wings and the official emblem on the propeller were all designed just as those planes flown by pilots in training during the war.
“(It is) exactly as it came off the assembly line,” Martin said. “We just wanted everything so original… There’s very, very few of them (left). There were quite a few built during the war but they didn’t survive.”
The PT-19 is cranked up by hand with two open seats and a thick coat, (14 coats, to be exact) of silver paint, which reflects the sunlight when it soars through the sky.
Through the EAA, aviation enthusiasts not only find like minds but are able to take part in fly-ins like the one held in Niles Sunday and see a bit of aviation history preserved and prepared to take flight.
” We just have a lot of fun,” Martin said. “It’s a very rugged airplane.”
The two continue their talk and turn their focus to one of the other planes out for view at the other end of the tarmac.
There’s an evident feeling that Martin and Holcomb could talk flight all day long.