Saturday

Columbia Airport Appreciation Day!

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Matt here again!  I wanted to write a post on our Saturday excursion outside of Yosemite.  Northwest of Yosemite Lakes (our campground just outside the park) was the small historic gold mining town of Columbia.  Mining is very exciting and all, but the towns annual airport fly-in was the focus of our trip!
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The Columbia Airport had an annual "Father's Day Fly-In" until FAA budget changes (thanks sequestration) led to a more scaled back "Airport Appreciation Day" on the Saturday before Father's Day.
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We arrived at the airfield about 9am.  A small showing of Chevy Corvettes lined a taxi way that we toured before taking a shuttle across the runway to the main parking area to see the private planes.
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Let's just say the fly-in was quite… informal!  The announcer tried his best to give us details of what aircraft were landing and taking off.  A group of homebuilt RV aircraft took to the sky to show off their formation flying skills while the firefighting airplanes took off to fight a Sierra wildfire.

Overall I was amazed at how many of the aircraft were homebuilt.  The most striking of course were the Burt Rutan designs - the Long EZ and the Quickie.  These 2 composite (fiberglass) aircraft were designed way ahead of their time.  Thousands have been built from plans and some variations from kits.
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Michelle and I were able to talk with a couple who had just parked their Lancair Legacy aircraft.  This was built as a kit in 2007 by the husband and wife team.  It is made of carbon fiber (wow!), has a 320 HP engine and would propel 2 people over 250 MPH.  The wife was especially proud of the work she did on their plane.  They were planning to 'fly home for lunch' then come back later in the afternoon - cool!  They said that 'anywhere within 800 miles can be a weekend trip' - not bad!  In all we saw 6 Lancair kit aircraft at the show - all spectacular examples of how far homebuilt aircraft have come in technology and sophistication.  I believe a kit is $75k + engine & avionics.
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Not at the airshow but my personal favorite homebuilt aircraft is the Cozy MK-IV - a 4 seat pusher canard design.  It is built from plans for about $20k + engine & avionics + many hours of your labor.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cozy_MK_IV 
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Other crowd favorites were of course the Gyrocopter, the Van's RV's, and a small amphibious aircraft.
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While walking around looking at airplanes I remembered that Michelle had never flown in the small airplane before - so it was time for her to fly!  For just $45 Michelle took to the sky in the co-pilots seat of a Cessna airplane for a 30 minute flight around 'gold country.'  Michelle told me that after takeoff the pilot removed his hands from the controls and then had Michelle fly around - she loved it!
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We're hoping to check out a real 'Air Show' while in Oregon soon… stay tuned!
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