September 15, 2010
By Mike Collins
Glasairs, GlaStars, and Sportsman aircraft line the ramp at Flabob Airport.
The thirtieth anniversary of Glasair was commemorated last weekend with a fly-in at Flabob Airport in Riverside, Calif. The event began on Friday, Sept. 10, and by midday Saturday more than 50 Glasairs, GlaStars, and Sportsman aircraft were parked on the Flabob ramp.
They met on the occasion of the annual Glasair gathering, which in 2010 coincided with the company’s thirtieth anniversary of the company. Aircraft flew in from as far away as Florida; two Glasair owners even came commercially from Iceland. More than 100 people attended lunch; in the evening, a series of talks featured Marc Cook, editor of Kitplanes magazine, and the widow of airshow performer Bob Herendeen, who used to put on aerobatic demonstrations with his Glasair. Tom Hamilton and Ted Setzer, the company’s founders, recalled their decision to give up careers as dentists to begin designing and testing airplanes. In its early years, they recalled, Glasair shared an airstrip with a pig farm.
Hamilton described a little two-place tandem aircraft that few people ever saw, and that Hamilton only flew three times before Setzer set fire to it. It was, Hamilton admitted, an unsuccessful precursor to the first Glasair. Glasair President Mikael Via also was on hand.
Today, the company is owned by Tom Wathen—who also owns Flabob Airport. Wathen, who has his own Sportsman, pulled out his collection of homebuilt replica racers: the Comet, Meteor, Firecracker, and Caudron. Several Sportsman, built during Glasair’s Two Weeks to Taxi Program, were on hand at the event. “It’s amazing to see the energy that develops when you get a bunch of builders together and they have an opportunity to compare notes,” he said.
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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