I guess my secret’s out that I like to hang around airports. These days, what with concerns about airport security, airport “lurkers” are no longer welcome.
Two types of events still draw people to airports for the experience, not for travel. Those events are airshows and fly-ins. In the upper midwest, many small airports invite the general public to visit at least once a year typically on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
So it happened that I needed to be in Bismarck for a Civil Air Patrol activity on a Saturday in September. Coincidently on Sunday morning, a fly-in was scheduled for the Bismarck Airport. Lynn and I decided we would spend the night in Bismarck and visit the fly-in before heading back to Fargo. In the opening photo, a Cessna 195 attracted attention. This private aircraft was one of about 1200 built between 1947 and 1954.
Adding to the attraction, for me, often owners of classic automobiles are invited to share the ramp space with their flying cousins. On this day, there were maybe a total of 20 or so classic vehicles on display. In fact, there were more cars than aircraft available for viewing on this day.
Our Civil Air Patrol display featured two aircraft and several members, cadets and adults who shared their enthusiasm for our volunteer efforts with interested guests. As this photo was taken, we were just about finished setting up. Soon we would open the doors to N634CP and give people a closer look at the all-electronic “glass cockpit” flight display and the forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera system.
North Dakota CAP was the first CAP wing in the country to mount a FLIR system in one of our aircraft. This joint project between the State of North Dakota and North Dakota CAP led to other wings adopting the technology for their search and rescue activities. In the photo above, the FLIR control unit is displayed on the co-pilot’s seat. Normally the console is operated by a FLIR technician, usually from the rear seat. The operator can manipulate the camera’s rotation and tilt using the joystick. Different modes and functions are selected by the various pushbuttons and sliders on the panel. ND Wing CAP is looking to upgrade our FLIR system to a much more compact control console in the next few months.
But I digress from the topic of the fly-in… People come to fly-ins hungry. As you can see by this line, guests are waiting their turn to be served the traditional pancakes and sausages. Most fly-ins charge a modest fee, or ask for donations to cover the expense of the food. I have never been to a fly-in that charged for admission. Check with someone at your airport to find out when and where local fly-ins are scheduled. If there isn’t one held there annually, you can find out which airports in your area invite guests. The gallery of images below features some additional photos captured at this year’s Bismarck, North Dakota fly-in. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.