An exalted league of 100 airplanes filled the clear, vast blue skies above Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport on Jan. 12 as the Old Farts Flying Club participated in a Fly-In at the airport hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
“It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, and the sky was clear,” said Don Etchison, a longtime member of the Brooksville chapter of the Old Farts Flying Club and an event organizer. “And for what I believe was the first time, we had a Fly-in at Brooksville.”
These brightly patterned aircraft glowed in brilliant hues of gold and black, red and white, each representing its own special model and place in aviation history. “We saw a mixture of old and new models,” said Etchison, BKV pilot, historian, and the person behind the Gunnery Backstop Historical Marker and Monument project. “From classic planes and warplanes to modern models.”
Yet despite the variety of planes, the more than 185 visitors in attendance at the Fly-In were brought together by a common link.
“We all just love to fly,” said Etchison. “The pilots flew in, walked around and talked, and drank coffee. Everyone wore a smile, and spirits were high.”
Pilots followed a stringent predetermined EAA protocol to fly in and land their planes in a safe, orderly manner. Once they landed, they enjoyed treats from two food vendors (La Fogata and Shorty’s Munchies) and live music from The Flying Musicians.
“This three-piece brass band filled the fields with beautiful music,” said Etchison.
And Etchison, a veteran of the food industry, kept the gourmet roasted coffee and espresso flowing for guests. “I started flying in college because of the inspiration of my parents, both involved in the military and from the greatest generation,” said this veteran flyer, who owns two vintage planes–one dating back to 1946. “I just love the feeling of freedom up there.”
Etchison shared additional commentary regarding this special day from Roger Brown, the head Old Fart, who hails from South Florida.
“What a wonderful day to aviate!!!” he wrote. “I count something like NINETY Old Fart aircraft in my photos from Yesterday at Brooksville (KBKV). I/we can’t thank Old Fart Don Etchison and his band of volunteers from Brooksville EAA Chapter 1298 enough!!! Our event there was a huge success!!! I saw a lot of Smiling Faces!!!”
Brown takes great pride in his organization’s work in putting together this special event.
“A continuing conversation at these events centers around how special the Old Farts Flying Club is. There really is no other place on earth where this could be duplicated,” he wrote. “The number of mostly retired pilots with time to spare, the south Florida weather, the abundant airfields, the freedoms we are blessed with, and of course… the discretionary income we’ve all worked so hard for, to now enjoy…all combine to make our group truly unique! “
“From top to bottom,” he wrote, “I want to thank everyone who pitched in to make our Brooksville visit so wonderful.”