Mentone: Be There, or Be... Normal
By ANN Reporter Kevin "Hognose" O'Brien
There is a great convention
every year, where homebuilders, and those who would sell to them,
gather, looking at the latest in products and the years best-built
and cleverest flying technology.
Of course, I'm talking about Mentone, and the Popular Rotorcraft
Association's 41st Annual Convention. This takes place at PRA
Mentone Airport (C96) in Mentone, Indiana, from July 23rd to 27th
The PRA is to rotorcraft -- gyroplanes and helicopters -- what
the EAA is to sport aviation. It's an organization of eager
enthusiasts who design, build, fly, (and dream about), their own
rotary winged aircraft.
The PRA was started by the father of homebuilt rotorcraft, Dr.
Igor Bensen, in 1962, and has operated continuously since then. If
you're seriously interested in homebuilt rotorcraft, you will
benefit from involvement with PRA. It produces an excellent
magazine, Rotorcraft, for members; it also has local
Chapters in 30 states, plus DC, Puerto Rico, and five foreign
"Mentone" to rotorheads has a
cachet similar to "Oshkosh" for the rest of you: it means a place
where like-minded souls gather and enjoy the flock of homebuilts,
meet the luminaries of the sport, and catch up on new and improved
technology. Of course, individual rotorcrafters will be showing off
their design and workmanship feats (and submitting them to
judging). For those already immersed in the sport, or preparing to
dive in, there's a full schedule of forums on rotorcraft
construction, operation, and safety planned.
Because getting involved in rotorcraft is like joining a
minority group, Mentone lacks the scale of an Oshkosh. This has
pros and cons: you can meet the designers and manufacturers
face-to-face; you can look at the machines close-up, and see them
fly (maybe even catch a ride) without trying to wedge into a
miniscule time-slot. What you don't get, is the teeming throngs of
people who have no deep interest in aviation, and the benefits that
these throngs bring: things like extensive consumer services, and
stuff to entertain non-flying family members.
If you have your own homebuilt gyro or helicopter, you probably
know about Mentone already. If you are a stiff-wing pilot, someone
looking for a new adventure, or just curious, you might look into
There are only seven days left (at this writing) to Mentone. Be
there! But if you can't be there, be here -- at Aero News
-- we'll report it for you.