Ten years ago a suggestion from a Mojave pilot who had visited a fly-in at another airport resulted in a monthly family-oriented event at the Mojave Air & Spaceport which is celebrating its 10th year this weekend.
Next Saturday, Plane Crazy Saturday will begin its 10th year of attracting aviation enthusiasts and families from all over the world with a briefing on “How Age Affects Pilot Performance”presented by senior pilot Joe Biviano, who recently the FAA “Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award” from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Biviano, who has been flying for more than a half century, is a Navy veteran and aerospace engineer.
“Joe is typical of the high quality aviation and other professional speakers who have addressed overflow audiences at (Plane Crazy Saturday) briefings at the Mojave Air & Spaceport board room,” said Cathy Hansen, herself a pilot and aviation enthusiast, who helped found the Mojave Transportation Museum Foundation, which presents Plane Crazy Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month.
“Despite weather, illness, and competing events we have only missed one month” presenting Plane Crazy Saturday, said Hansen, who has been the driving force behind keeping the event going and recruiting interesting speakers. The month that was missed followed the tragic crash of SpaceShipTwo.
For full disclosure, I am past president and current vice-president of the foundation, whose primary goal is to build a museum that celebrates the vital role transportation continues to play in the Mojave area.
The free event is aimed at showcasing many of the unusual and envelope-expanding aerospace vehicles based at the nation’s first commercial spaceport.
In addition to the briefings, Plane Crazy Saturday also offers visitors the opportunity to walk among a wide variety of aircraft and the occasional space ship on display on the Mojave Air & Space Port flight line in front of the Voyager Restaurant.
Over the years many memorable events have taken place at Plane Crazy Saturday and the following is a list from my aging memory.
Leading that list is the time requent speaker Dick Rutan was scheduled to speak as he did at last month’s PCS.
In recognition of his years flying F-100 jet fighters in combat in Vietnam, we had a Super Sabre parked in the airport “boneyard” towed to a spot outside the Voyager windows the Saturday before his address.
Several of us spent all morning removing gunk that had accumulated on the Super Sabre, much of it oil-soaked dirt, some of which Cathy removed by mopping the wings.
The following Saturday, Rutan spoke in the Voyager to a crowd that would not fit in the board room.
Unfortunately, that Saturday was one of those when, in defiance of desert weather, the rain came down so heavily that the F-100 could not be seen during Dick’s nearly two-hour remarks.
Other memorable PCS’s include Alan’s Redecki’s presentation on the airport Boneyard, the one location on the airport that most people want to visit and cannot because of safety concerns.
Two Saturdays included listening to two of the finest and most informative speakers I have ever heard, Scaled Composites Engineer Zack Reeder, and Scott Glaser, Vice President of Flight Research, Inc.
Zack kept his audience of children and adults transfixed with an interactive workshop on designing an airplane that could haul an elephant from here to Hawaii.
His briefing was capped by the audience building a model of their design — which flew.
Scott briefed pilots on Upset Recognition Recovery Training, strategies for avoiding potentially fatal upsets when flying.
After both pilots completed their briefings, I told them how I wished I had had teachers like them when I was in school.
Over the years we have had two U-2 pilots recall their adventures, both claiming to have the most hours in the Palmdale-built spy planes.
We have also heard SR-71 pilot Bill Weaver and “back-seater” Bob “Oscar” Meyer tell what it’s like to fly what is still probably the world’s fastest airplane.
Weaver, of Orbital Sciences, also is the only pilot to survive an SR-71 crash.
We also enjoyed hearing two young women pilots share their adventures in a cross-country air race, two railroad enthusiasts (including myself) discuss that industry’s effect on Mojave and the Antelope Valley, and briefings on vintage automobiles.
One of the most memorable Plane Crazy Saturdays was when Orbital sciences parked their Lockheed L-1011, “Stargazer,” which was built in Palmdale, on the flight line.
Orbital uses the modified airliner to launch rocket-powered aerospace vehicles.
Some of the people who helped build the plane had tears in their eyes recalling their years helping build the airliners.
An older woman with memory-moistened eyes told me, “I worked on the interior and my husband worked on the wings!”
Air Force veteran Dan Yost and record-setting glider pilot Jim Payne of Rosamond hold the record for most times addressing PCS audiences.
Payne has briefed Plane Crazy Saturday about his efforts to fly a sailplane higher and faster in South American skies, setting several records in the process. We expect to see Jim at another Plane Crazy Saturday soon.
Dan has discussed his experiences flying the Air Force B-47 bomber, C-7 cargo aircraft and other planes. His latest presentation involved health tips for pilots.
The first Plane Crazy Saturday speaker was Scaled Composites executive Corey Bird showcasing “Symmetry,” the beautiful and award-winning two-place aircraft he designed and built, an airplane Corey describes as his “resume.”
The monthly events attract attendees from all over the globe, especially from Germany and Switzerland, who are welcomed in their native languages by MTM board member Ursula Finkbeiner.
Mojave Air & Spaceport CEO Karina Drees said Mojave Air & Space Port “is honored to host Plane Crazy Saturdays each month. We are always happy to see new faces attend these well-organized, promotional events and look forward to hosting Plane Crazy Saturdays well into the future.”
Plane Crazy Saturday take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month at the Mojave Air & Space Port. The event is free and entry is through the Voyager Restaurant.
For details, call 661-824-2481.