The inaugural Wings ‘n Wheels aircraft, automobile, and motorcycle event that began as a gathering between friends drew almost 2,500 to AOPA’s National Aviation Community Center at the Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Maryland, Oct. 22. Attendees inspected and climbed on, in, over, and around 18 aircraft, 75 classic and custom cars, and 50 modern and vintage motorcycles. The marriage of aviation and motoring attracted a family-friendly crowd during a brilliant but blustery fall day.
With its painstakingly researched decals and markings attracting a lot of attention, attendees voted Billy Smith’s yellow tandem 1955 Beechcraft T-34B Navy trainer as the best aircraft. Tony Morone’s teal-and-white 1973 VW Beetle captured the best car award, and Harry Kraemer’s forest green single-cylinder 1912 Auto Carrier grabbed best motorcycle honors. Participants agreed, however, that the real winners were the airport and the community, which shined as bright as the aircraft and vehicles on display.
Hundreds of people crowded around a blue-and-white compass rose on the community center’s ramp to get closer looks at a variety of aircraft. The aircraft on display ranged from a bright green powered parachute to a Cessna Citation jet.
Frank Noe stood by his favorite flying machine, an MTOsport Autogyro and explained to an expanding audience how it worked. “It’s probably some of the best flying I’ve ever done and I do it for a living,” said the ExpressJet and National Guard pilot. AOPA’s yellow Reimagined Cessna 172 shared space near a gold-and-white Piper Arrow and a red Pilatus P-3 military trainer. People peppered Bushby Mustang II pilot Carlo Cilliers with questions about his Van's Aircraft lookalike as he ticked off its performance numbers.
Melanie Jackman entertained motorcycle enthusiasts with stories about her husband Jerry “Chopperdaddy” Jackman’s custom cycles that “he makes just for fun.” She pointed to a beautifully restored burgundy Harley-Davidson police bike that was previously a total loss until her husband hammered it back together. “That’s my daily rider,” she said, “I get bikes like most women get jewelry.”
While many children tried their hands at Redbird Jay flight simulators inside the community center, Shane Watson, 10, from New Market, Maryland, had something else in mind. He climbed aboard a pint-sized full-motion device and pretended he was a fighter pilot ace, jamming the control stick forward, aft, left, and right, clearly having the time of his life. “We haven’t been here in a while,” said his mother Marcia, “and we wanted to check out the airplanes and my favorite car—a Ford Mustang and we saw several of them parked out front.”
Holding court atop a grassy knoll, Jason Witter and his 1977 Leyland Mini 850 with its red, white, and blue Union Jack painted on the roof was hard to miss. “Kids love it but I really don’t know why I bought it,” admitted the Clustered Spires British Car Club member. He joined more than a dozen British auto enthusiasts with an assortment of English models, from Carl Dotson’s swoopy 1970 Jaguar XKE to Jim Gordon’s green-and-yellow 1966 Lotus Seven.
A pair of Vans Aircraft RVs parked behind a row of Detroit’s best muscle cars drew a lot of attention. Joe and Blair Luise toted their son Lawson and his cousin Avery toward the sporty aircraft and took turns peeking inside of them. “Our little guy loves airplanes so we thought we’d check it out today,” said Luise, “and now we’re thinking about making it a family tradition.”