excitement down on The Farm: The ultralights live!
Story and photos by Earl Downs
is an affordable and fun way to fly.
The variety of
flying types in huge down on The Farm.
The crowded traffic pattern, the sound of
buzzing two-cycle engines, the roar of burners blasting as hot-air
balloons are inflated; it was controlled chaos down on The Farm—and it
was a gas!
The perfect weather conditions combined
with the resurgence of ultralight activity on Thursday evening created a
show of shows at the AirVenture ultralight flying field, affectionately
known as “The Farm.”
The addition of the light-sport aircraft
category has led to a downturn in ultralight activity over the last few
years, but on The Farm, the true home of affordable flying is back on
For less than the price of a small
economy car, anyone can fulfill their dream of flying for fun by looking
to the “light stuff.”
And The Farm provides a world-away
experience for the fliers and spectators.
The AirVenture ultralight field comes
alive with flying as dawn breaks each morning, pauses for the daily
show, and then surges back to life until the sun sinks to the west.
While the volume of activity may look
chaotic, it is actually safe and well choreographed thanks to the group
of volunteers and pilots that make it happen.
Each pilot must attend a morning safety
briefing if they intend to fly at the field, and air traffic is managed
by use of hand signals from controllers on the ground.
The sounds, the fanciful designs and
variety of the innovative ultralights and light aircraft, and the
enthusiasm of those who fly the light stuff add a special dimension to
the AirVenture experience.
Down on The Farm: it’s fun, it’s
exciting, it’s affordable.
DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3;
2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30