300+ Aircraft Pack The Ramps And Flight Lines In New Braunfels,
By ANN Correspondent Juan Jimenez
Some twenty five miles northeast of San Antonio is
a community best known for a number of water parks which draw their
most important resource from the Comal River. The City of New
Braunfels was founded in 1845 under German charter, and is
classified as a home-rule city, governed by a seven-member council.
In 1969, the city acquired what is now known as the New Braunfels
Municipal Airport from the US government. The city web site states
that the airport is home base to 58 aircraft. This past weekend,
that number grew to over 300 aircraft, from gyrocopters to
turbine-powered experimentals to highly polished warbirds, all
participating in the annual EAA Southwest Regional Fly-In.
The SWRFI was originally founded by general aviation luminary
and Texas Aviation Hall of Fame Inductee Tony Bingelis, this
is the first year that the fly-in has returned to its original home
in Texas Hill Country.
Over 300 aircraft and 70 vendors made their way from all corners
of the country to participate in the fly-in. Aircraft of just about
every make and persuasion made the trip to participate in the
festivities, and the spectators made it clear they appreciated it.
There was no shortage of families and plenty of children walking or
riding up and down the flight line in the hay ride shuttles.
Probably the best evidence of the number of aircraft at the
fly-in were the very long lines of aircraft waiting to make their
way down the taxiways to the departure ends of the two runways. At
one point, we saw some 30 aircraft lined up on one taxiway
patiently waiting their turn to depart.
It should also be noted that, to our knowledge, there were no
incidents or accidents at the fly-in, no small feat considering the
size of the airport and the overwhelming number of aircraft at or
around the airport at any given time.
There was also no shortage of attendance at any of the more than
two dozen forums covering subjects from "Airworthiness Inspection
of Experimental Airplanes" to "Women in WWII (WASPs)." All the
forums were well-attended and everyone seemed to come out of them
after having learned something new.
A number of current military aircraft made their presence known
at the show as well, including the Navy and USAF turboprop trainers
produced by Raytheon Corporation. Texas is home to a number of
military flight training facilities, and the training commands were
more than happy to send "ambassadors" to show their aircraft at the
Saturday evening the SWRFI held its annual Awards Banquet. The
guest speaker for the banquet was General Charlie Duke, astronaut
and Lunar Module pilot on the Apollo 16 NASA mission.
All in all, the fly-in was definitely a success!