Probably 2,500 visitors came to the Carson City Airport on June 2, estimates Yvon Weaver, airport manager. "
"Can't really tell as there were two gates and nobody kept score. But I know we had a lot of people, many families with small kids," she said.
What did those guests see at our airport?
Helicopters demonstrated rescue techniques, aircraft zoomed down the runway at speed, some of them spewing smoke. Radio-controlled model airplanes did acrobatics and food vendors supplied fuel for guests.
Probably the vintage World War II bomber Sentimental Journey, a B-17 maintained by the Commemorative Air Force of Arizona won the most attention. Built in 1944, the B-17 remains a handsome beast, machine guns bristling on all sides. Many visitors paid $5 to tour inside the B-17, and a few actually flew in it at $425 each. No complaints were heard as they emerged from the aging bomber.
The B-17, joined by the four-engined B-24, was the main bomber to attack the Third Reich, and while it was not damaged during the war, the leading edges of the wings today show many dents from such hail. But the engines belched smoke and roared loudly when started, despite having to have a "jug" or piston replaced in one at the last air show.
There were at least 30 aircraft on display at the airport, ranging from small, single-seater biplanes to hulking amphib SA-16, search and rescue planes used in the '60s and '70s. (Nosiest airplane this writer ever flew in.)
Many of the aircraft on display are based, or perhaps stored, is a better word here. Sometimes-Appeal columnist Bob Thomas hauled out his French biplane but didn't fly it - he was out of gas. A few like a F-86 Sabre Jet from the Korean War gleam like the day it came from the factory. Many collector airplanes are never shown, said Neil Weaver, who runs an aircraft refurbishing business at the airport. Collecting aircraft is not a game for those of modest means. Prices range from about $175,000 to $1.5 million.
"When you get guys that are wealthy, they want what they want," he said.
He thinks the personal property tax on aircraft is great for education. Of the more than $77,000 collected from aircraft owners in a recent year, more than $50,000 went to the Carson City School District.
The oldest planes at the airport belong to Yesterday's Flyers, Ltd. They are also the planes that are the most accessible to the public. But Weaver says most collectors' planes can be seen by roving the airport grounds any sunny Saturday afternoon.
For the rest of Carson City's residents who didn't make it to the airport a week ago, look around this page for a capsule tour.
• Contact Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Nevadaappeal.com.