Fair is just plane fun

Annual event lets people’s interest in flying soar

Posted: Monday, May 15, 2006


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  Photo by Joseph Robertia

Nikiski residents Brain Ossig and his daughter, Brianna Ossig, admire an experimental aircraft not much bigger than an economy-sized car the hang glider Aerotrike Cobra during the sixth annual Kenai Peninsula Air Fair on Saturday at Kenai Municipal Airport. Spectators could go inside planes to view the gauges, dials and switches that pilots must be familiar with to fly safely.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

Flying fans took their fun to new heights Saturday during the return of the annual Kenai Peninsula Air Fair held jointly at the Soldotna and Kenai airports.

“It promotes aviation on the Kenai Peninsula, makes people aware of all the people and businesses that rely on air transportation, and gets people familiar with some of the aircrafts on the peninsula,” said Mary Bondurant, assistant to the manager of the Kenai Municipal Airport and one of the coordinators of the event.

There were planes in various sizes, shapes colors and designs. Among the largest was the Alaska Air National Guard’s C-130H Hercules, which has a wingspan of 132 feet 7 inches, a height of 38 feet 5 inches, and can carry a maximum load of 175,000 pounds.

“People are curious about it,” said Adam Galindo. He stood inside the aircraft answering questions from a crowd of people, but it wasn’t as shoulder-to-shoulder in the belly of the tactical titan as when all 64 paratroopers are packed into the plane for a mission.

“A lot of people have seen these planes before with Elmendorf nearby, but maybe not so close up,” Galindo added.

At the other end of the size spectrum there were experimental aircrafts not much bigger than an economy-sized car, such as the motorized hang glider Aerotrike Cobra.


Photo by Joseph Robertia

“Does it come with a parka?” joked Gary Knopp of Kenai. He flew to the air fair in a Supercub and, although he wasn’t knocking the experimental aircraft, he was about to trade his plane in for one.

“It looks like a lot of fun, but I bet it takes a while to get there,” Knopp said.

“Also, I don’t know where you would put your caribou,” added Jim Geeslin of Sterling.

The two men where taking part in the “poker run,” where pilots fly to locations around the peninsula and received tickets.

Wheeled aircraft could go to airports in Homer, Kasilof, Kenai, Ninilchik, Quartz Creek, Seward and Soldotna, as well as the McGahan Industrial Airpark. Float planes could go to Beluga, Browns, Longmere or Stormy Lakes, as well as the Kenai Municipal Seaplane Base.

Pilots were required to fly to at least five airports and the tickets they received were traded in for playing cards at the end of the event. The best poker hands received prizes.

“It’s a lot of fun. It gets you out and flying and you meet a lot of people,” Knopp said.

“The poker run is also a great way for pilots to become familiar with all the different airstrips on the peninsula,” Mary Bondurant said.

The air fair concluded with a military appreciation event, entertainment provided by the U.S. Air Force band Top Cover and a barbecue.

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