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Gray skies are gonna clear upGray skies are gonna clear up

Beaufort Fly-In visitors run between the raindrops

Hundreds of people headed to Michael J. Smith Field Airport in Beaufort, North Carolina, on May 21 for AOPA’s first fly-in of 2016. Unfortunately, so did a mass of rain that had been hanging out over the Atlantic Ocean, apparently with nothing better to do.
Passengers taking rides in Total Flight Solution's Robinson R44 got this view of AOPA's Beaufort Fly-In.

A thunderstorm soaked the airport Saturday morning. The rain didn’t put a damper on the fun, however, and the showers soon moved off.

Some 230 aircraft landed at Beaufort, many arriving on May 20 to take advantage of better flying weather, a fuel discount, and the lively Barnstormers Party. There were approximately 1,883 visitors, many of whom drove from up and down the East Coast.

“The theme of the seminars is instrument flying,” AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines joked at the opening of the fly-in. “So we set this weather up for you.”

Beaufort Mayor Richard L. Stanley welcomed the fly-in visitors. Beaufort is the third-oldest town in the state, he said, and the hometown of Michael J. Smith, the astronaut who was piloting the space shuttle Challenger when it broke apart on Jan. 28, 1986. The former Beaufort-Morehead City Airport was renamed in his memory.

“This is a North Carolina first, to have an AOPA Fly-In, so we’re very proud of that,” said Morehead City Mayor Gerald A. Jones Jr.

Visitors swarmed the seven-seat, twin-engine Diamond DA62—the very same airplane that they had seen on the cover of the April 2016 issue of AOPA Pilot. Others took advantage of the opportunity to climb into a Boeing-Bell CV-22 Osprey, one of several military aircraft in the static display. The Osprey, carrying a crew of 11, had flown in from Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina. For routine missions, the hybrid heavy-lift helicopter merged with a turboprop airplane is staffed with two pilots, a crew chief, and a gunner.

A dozen or so airplanes brought a hardy band of campers. Hank Osborne, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, and his son Levi arrived in a Mooney M20C flown by family friend Bill Magill. Osborne set up a tent for himself and a smaller one for his son, explaining that the fly-in trip represented two milestones for Levi: It was his first trip in a general aviation airplane, and it was a birthday gift. Levi had just turned 6.

“His siblings are very jealous,” Osborne said. Levi is one of five children.

Levi burrowed in the big tent in search of a sweatshirt, but poked his head out long enough to say that his ride was fun, and a little bumpy.

Kevin McCray drove to Beaufort from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, arriving on Friday so that he could take a special tour of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. McCray said he hadn’t been on the base since he was discharged from the Marines in 1986. McCray, who owns an aircraft sales and brokerage business, attended a seminar on Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, noting that he has to stay on top of the 2020 equipage mandate so that he can assist his clients.

Charley Shumaker, an independent CFI, drove in from Milton, West Virginia. Shumaker owns a Cessna 172N. Looking over the AOPA Yingling Ascend 172, Shumaker compared its many features with those of his current airplane and quipped, “I wouldn’t mind trading.”

Photos by Mike Collins.

Beaufort Fly-In

  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Leigh Truskey, 16 months, and her brother Jay, 2 1-2, play in a puddle beside the display aircraft.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    AOPA President Mark Baker addresses guests at the Beaufort Fly-In.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Barnstormer Party guests view a video about Adrian Eichhorn's flight around the world in his Beechcraft Bonanza.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Bob Sutherlin of the Greensboro Flight Standards District Office presents the FAA Master Pilot Award to John Porter Betts of Morehead City, North Carolina.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Collin McDonald, tracing the flight of the Vin Fiz with his Maule, talks with AOPA President Mark Baker at the Barnstormers Party.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Visitors swarmed the seven-seat, twin-engine Diamond DA62.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Guests talk and listen to music during Friday evening's Barnstormers Party.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Libby Truskey steps out of a Pilatus PC-12 on display at Michael J. Smith Field.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Members of the Bandits Flight Team, from the Raleigh, North Carolina, area, fly over the Beaufort airport.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Passengers taking rides in Total Flight Solution's Robinson R44 got this view of AOPA's Beaufort Fly-In.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    This new Piper M350 is reflected in a puddle as the Beaufort skies clear.
  • Beaufort Fly-In
    Volunteers cook pancakes for Saturday morning's pancake breakfast.
Jill Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
Topics: AOPA, AOPA Events, Fly in

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