Sunny weather and mild temperatures couldn’t have been a better back drop for the Sedalia Regional Airport Breakfast Fly-In and Air Show on Saturday.
The show brought many families with small children to see the planes up close. Alan and Bethanie Springer, of Sedalia, brought their girls, Annabelle, 5 and Adalyn, 2. The family was looking over a Pitt Special belonging to Bob Richards, of Lee’s Summit.
“She’s into airplanes,” Alan Springer said of Adalyn. “We don’t live far from here, and when she sees one she’s so excited. So, when we decided to come out here, we knew she would have a cow.”
Delighting young and old alike, Richards gave an aerobatic performance with his plane around 10 a.m.
“This (plane) was finished in 1990,” Richards said. “This design started back in the late 40’s, and it was one of the premier designs for aerobatic competition in the 70’s and 80’s. It continues to be modified for current aerobatic competition and air shows. There’s a lot of designs that is based off the Pitt Special model.”
Richards bought the plane in 2003 and participates in eight to 12 air shows during the year.
“I’ve been doing air shows since I was six,” he added. “I grew up flying model planes, with my dad (Cecile Richards), and got my pilot’s license at Purdue University. I bought this in 03 and pretty much wanted to do air shows. It’s been fun, I really enjoy it.”
Toward the middle of the airfield, Ramon Rios and his son Jonzel Rios, 6, were busy peering into the windows of a Seneca III Piper early Saturday morning.
“Oh, he loves this,” Rios said. “This morning at 7 a.m., he was up and said ‘is it time to go?”’
Near the back of the field and fascinated with a World War II Stearman open cockpit biplane, Alex Thomlinson, 4, took a shy peek at the plane with his grandfather Jeff McCrea, of Sedalia.
“Right now, he’s fascinated with the RC (radio controlled) planes over there,” McCrea said. “I told him the real planes are over here.”
The World War II Stearman’s pilot and owner Lee Crouch, of Kansas City, was selling rides to spectators on Saturday.
“An open cockpit flight is a very unique experience,” Crouch said.”It’s kind of like riding a Harley at 1,000 feet. But, with out having any canopy over you, you really get to see a lot and take it all in.”
Crouch, said he purchased the biplane in Mountain Home, Arkansas, three months ago.
“This is a 1941 Boeing Stearman,” Crouch, who is a corporate pilot, said. “It’s pretty unique. Stearman’s were the primary trainers in World War II, and after WWII they modified them for crop dusting and and different things. That’s what created the 450 Stearman. They bolted on an engine that’s over a 110 percent horsepower increase. That’s what this is.
“It’s highly modified from WWII,” he added. “This airplane in particular, is pretty famous. It was built in Salinas, California, remanufactured. It was seven years in restoration and 7,000 man hours went into it … all the stuff was handmade and hand-fitted for it. It’s one of a kind.”
Pilot Jeff Shetterly, with the family owned Shetterly Squadron, of Kansas City, flew his World War II T-6 or Navy SMJ into the airport Saturday. To the delight of spectators, he was scheduled to fly several acrobatic performances during the day.
“John Evans, who runs the airport here, and his father flew T-6’s,” Shetterly said. “I don’t know if it was Navy or Air Force but all of the fighter pilots in World War II flew this airplane … The Navy called it the SMJ, which is what I have. Mine was stationed out of Pensacola, Florida.”
Shetterly said his whole family flies and that his father taught him how to fly.
“Then he taught my mom and my brother how to fly, and we all fly airships,” he added.
He said that several mechanics helped him restore the plane and he’s had it for approximately three years.
Eric Homan, of Sedalia, works for the Lake Ozark Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. He said he was privileged to fly with Stetterly in the Navy SMJ recently during an air show at the lake.
“I got to do a fly-over at the Camdenton football game,” Homan said. “We didn’t do any of the stunt stuff like he does, all we did was just a regular flight. It’s fun, we flew with another plane just like it. It’s actually a fairly smooth ride … It was a lot of fun.
Sedalia Regional Airport Director John Evans said he thought 30 planes, from the World War II era to current aircraft, were participating in the this year’s fly-in.
“The airport opened 63 years ago, right now,” Evans said. “So, this is the airport’s 63rd birthday, right around this time.”
He added that he was pleased with the vendors at the event.
“Out there is the 442nd Maintenance Division, that’s the A-10 Warthogs,” he said. “They’re going to be doing dog tags.”
The Sedalia RC Flyers were present as well as Air Evac, Pettis County Ambulance District, the Sedalia Fire Department and the Sedalia Civil Air Patrol.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.