The many advantages of attending an air show or fly-in close to home were on display, just as much as the muscle cars, on June 17. Tiger Flight wheeled Alon A2s out of home field hangar in Rome, Georgia. Pilots Cataldo, DeHart, Gillam and Hafner climbed into the cockpits in coordinated unison, fired up, ran up and then flew thirteen miles northeast to attend Wings and Wheels Day, Fly In and Car Show in Calhoun, GA. Just across a ridgeline.
Weather was spectacular. Clear and calm. The two airports are almost in each other’s traffic pattern, so the chance of running into unexpected weather enroute is nil.
It goes without saying that since our aircraft sip fuel at about four gallons an hour, the cost to fly to another airport so close rings up at a “you want fries with that?” price point. We extended the flight time somewhat by conducting formation flight training enroute and when all goals had been met, continued to destination. Staying high on Downwind, Base and Final gave us time to snug up a right echelon in order to execute a mid-field left break (or pitch-out, as many call it).
Smoke on. Hand signal. Lead broke left; wingmen followed at five second intervals. Each plane’s pilot hit the mark abeam the numbers and arced down for individual landing.
After rolling to the ramp, exiting and pushing the aircraft into our assigned corner, we confirmed that we were so close to home that we were still among our usual friends. Had there been a maintenance issue, we’d have easily caught a ride back to home plate. But the planes worked perfectly, so we were at liberty to hobnob with friendly folks, look at old cars kept in sparkling condition (it being the South, most had a motor that exceeded the combined horsepower of the entire Tiger Flight team), and watch the lone P-51 Mustang in attendance beat up the pattern for a while.
One pilot was heard to say, “The P-51 sure sounds good… but it doesn’t have smoke!”
By mid-afternoon, all hamburgers had been eaten, lemonade guzzled and backs slapped. The fly-in folded up, we winged home, washed the bugs off the leading edges and the Alons were parked in our WWII-era hangar’s interior before the sun was even over the yardarm. An easy day! A great day!