A revived annual Air Capital Fly-In at the Newton City-County Airport managed to draw a lot of people despite temperatures marching toward 100 Saturday morning.
“We want it this way, otherwise it would be raining or storming,” said Byron Warta, chairman of the airport commission.
The fly-in, organized by the Experimental Aircraft Association, featured about 50 aircraft — such as a gyrocopter, ultralights and gliders, a Learjet 21 business jet, a Cessna Caravan on pontoons, and various World War II-era aircraft — and included a pancake breakfast, airplane rides, and numerous fly-bys of vintage and modern aircraft.
Also at the show was a group of people who fly model rockets, an F-15 Eagle fighter jet simulator, and the EAA’s Young Eagles group, which was offering free flights to children ages 8 to 17.
Stephen Carty, coordinator of the EAA’s Young Eagles in Wichita, said they provided 62 free flights on about seven different production airplanes to kids on Saturday. “We’re trying to get youngsters interested in aviation,” Carty said, adding that the pilots who flew them pay for their own fuel and maintenance to do it.
Airport officials said this year’s fly-in was the fourth at the airport two miles east of Newton. It had been an annual event for a few decades before a pause in the event that lasted several years, Warta and airport manager Kevin Timmermeyer said.
Attendance early Saturday seemed “better than last year,” Warta said. “There are more planes, more people.”
Later on Saturday, Timmermeyer estimated attendance for the day at more than 200 people.
Besides Newton-area residents and pilots, more than a few people from the Wichita area made the drive – or flight – to the fly-in.
Brian FitzGerald flew his 48-horsepower ultralight from his home south of Haysville. He said it took 50 minutes.
“I had a good tailwind … that gave me an extra 20 miles an hour,” he said.
Ron Brown, a retired medical technologist from Newton, brought his wife and grandchildren to the event.
“I got the kids up early and charged down here,” Brown said.
He also took a 30-minute flight on a restored Fairchild PT-23 trainer from the World War II era. The airplane is part of the Commemorative Air Force’s Jayhawk Wing and features an open cockpit.
“I just like to be around aircraft,” said Brown, who never got his pilot’s license but can run down a seemingly endless list of aircraft that he’s flown on while attending air shows over the years.
“My wife was real nice and let me spend the $100 to fly in it.”