As I turned off Charing Cross Road onto 14th Line to head to the airport Saturday, I heard it.
There it was performing tight-G stunts over the runway, and racing along mere feet above the tarmac before pulling up and around again.
Flying conditions at the Chatham Municipal Airport were excellent for the dozens of pilots gathered there on the weekend.
And most of them stayed firmly planted on the ground.
The Chatham Aeronauts held their annual Warbirds and Classics Fly-In on Saturday and Sunday. I stopped by for a bit on Saturday morning, and my timing was excellent.
Just after the jet I saw landed, a Canadian Historical Aircraft Association (CH2A) Harvard buzzed the field before coming in for a landing.
A short while afterwards, two more CH2A aircraft came in – a Stearman biplane and a de Havilland Chipmunk. Vintage aircraft have a way of turning heads, the more so when they are painted a bright yellow.
Meanwhile, beside the runway, pilots from as far away as Wisconsin prepped their scale-model aircraft – some weighing less than 20 pounds, others more than 100 – or watched others take their turn sending their hobbies into the sky.
Carl Bachhuber, one of the Wisconsin remote control pilots to make the trip, again wowed spectators and fellow pilots alike with his large multi-engine offerings. He brought back his Heinkel He-111 replica bomber, but grabbed everyone’s attention with has Lockheed Constellation, a four-engined aircraft adorned in Military Air Transport Service decals.
There were replica biplanes from the First World War, numerous fighter aircraft from the Second World War – including a very quick P-47 I saw while I was there – a B17 Flying Fortress which also took to the sky Saturday morning, as well as numerous sport planes, and the jets.
Event organizers say the jet jockeys flock to Chatham for the weekend, as well as the September Thunderthrust (jets only), as the airport offers them a real runway. Many R/C events take place on grass fields, but the jets, which can be expensive to build, prefer smooth-surface take offs and landings. You’d hate to see $10,000 worth of hardware crumple up because the gear gave way during a landing.
If you missed the Warbirds event, I’d urge you to slide out to Thunderthrust Sept. 24 and 25. It’s a great event to watch.
The Warbirds Fly-In was just one of the many items on the Chatham-Kent agenda for the weekend. I also hit Downtown in the City in Chatham Friday night, and slid over to Tom Mann’s Celebration Tour motorcycle poker run for VON at Duke’s Harley-Davidson Saturday.
I am a huge fan of the Downtown in the City concept in Chatham. On the third Friday of the month, a growing number of downtown shops will stay open into the evening. On Friday, that meant more people in the core. The Capitol Theatre had its Song C!rcle summer series on the patio. The Concert in the Commons at the Downtown Chatham Centre entertained as well. And more than two-dozen shops stayed open into the evening.
There was a great vibe downtown Friday night. Now, we just need to see more support from local residents. You know, the folks who criticize downtown businesses for not staying open later to accommodate them. The businesses have listened and are trying something, so it’s up to the patrons to show the support.
Buy local, shop local, support local. It’s crucial to a stronger local economy.