Monday, October 2, 2023

St. Louis Regional Airport Holds 27th Annual Fly-In

By Carmelo Turdo
St. Louis Regional Airport held their 27th Annual Wings-N-Wheels Fly-In on Saturday. The fly-in has been a staple event for the local aviation community for over two and a half decades, attracting a variety of aircraft and the general public for an enjoyable time of flying, food and fellowship. (The car show portion of the event is not covered here). Special attractions included a Falcon jet on display from West Star Aviation, the World War II-era B-25 Mitchell Show Me from the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, a flight of Stearman trainers, the Gateway Youth Aeronautical Foundation's Bell Helicopter TH-67 and an MD-900 NOTAR Explorer helicopter.

The Aero Experience begins our coverage with the host exhibitors, including the EAA Young Eagles program, the West Star Falcon and the airport's iconic F-4 Phantom display. The EAA tent featured educational activities, including a timed Cleco pin exercise, for the Scouts earning their Aviation merit badge. Young Eagle flights were given to youth aged 8-17 on Sunday.

The Gateway Youth Aeronautical Foundation's Bell Helicopter TH-67, the U.S. Army version of the 206B Jet Ranger formerly used for basic helicopter training, was on display near the West Star Falcon. The helicopter is the Foundation's new flying exhibit making appearances at local fly-ins and aviation events this fall. It was a big hit with the Civil Air Patrol cadets and Scouts who eagerly climbed aboard for briefings from pilot Nick Hisserich and maintenance technician Faith Ortega. It was later joined by an MD-900 NOTAR Explorer utility helicopter, both of which took off together to return to Creve Coeur Airport for another event that afternoon.

The Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force flew in their B-25 Mitchell Show Me and Stearman trainer from St. Charles County Smartt Field for static display throughout the morning. Rides in Show Me are available at select events throughout the airshow season, and flying in this World War II-era bomber is an unforgettable experience!

Four additional Stearman trainers were also on display at the fly-in. Three arrived together from Creve Coeur Airport with a smoke-on formation overhead pass and tactical break over the field. Here we show them lined up together on the apron and an interactive session with pilot/owner John Ladley and some Scouts earning their Aviation merit badge. 

Another familiar aircraft at Midwest fly-ins is Mark Schuler's Nanchang CJ-6A seen here after his arrival. The CJ-6 is a basic trainer that was used by the Chinese military and their allies but has gained popularity in the warbird community in the U.S. We will feature Mark Schuler at the Warbirds Area ground control tower in our upcoming coverage of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2023.

The apron filled up with aircraft as the morning arrivals continued. Here we feature a display from St. Louis University's Oliver L. Parks Department of Aviation Science and the variety of fly-in aircraft we encountered during our visit.

The Aero Experience thanks St. Louis Regional Airport, the EAA, West Star Aviation and everyone who participated in the 27th Annual Fly-In! We are already looking forward to next year!

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