By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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“[Attendance] has exceeded our expectations,” event co-coordinator Kelly Jo Hill said Saturday, though she did not know a firm number.
Low-lying clouds, which cleared by about 11:30 a.m., pushed back the scheduled skydivers' demonstration from 10 a.m. to noon, Hill said.
Skydivers, wing-walkers, smoke planes, radio-controlled plane demonstrations and hot air balloon rides continue today as part of the Air Affaire at Sequim Valley Airport to celebrate both the 30th anniversary of the airport and the city's centennial.
Hours will be from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the airport at 468 Dorothy Hunt Road.
Admission is free; parking is $5 per carload.
On Saturday, strolling through the airport grounds with vendors and live music playing, visitors could hear planes, both miniature and full size, buzzing overhead.
Bill Berson of Port Townsend stood under a canopy the Tri-Area RC Flyers had set up in one of the airport's grassy fields checking out a coffee-table-sized remote-controlled plane of his used for training first-time flyers.
The trainer cost about $400 with the body, engine and control equipment included, though Berson said starter RC flying kits can be found for much less.
“You can actually get started for under $60 with something really small,” Berson said.
Berson, the treasurer of the Tri-Area RC Flyers, said his roughly 50-member club does not see as many young people interested in RC planes as organizers would like, though the club does see a few teenagers regularly attend.
“Models are a good way for young people to get into aviation,” Berson said, adding that models help teach basic principles of flying that also apply to actual aircraft.
Berson said he works as an airplane mechanic and is a registered pilot.
“I'm into everything that flies,” Berson said.
As another member of Berson's club prepared his model plane for launch, a fire-engine-red biplane made a swooping pass over head and landed on Sequim Valley Airport's main landing strip about 200 yards away from where the RC planes were set up.
The biplane, owned and flown by Mike Mason of Sequim, is a Boeing Stearman, originally built in 1943, said Marilyn Mason, Mike Mason's wife.
Marilyn Mason said she and her husband have owned the biplane for about seven years and bought it from a friend in the couple's former home of Santa Paula, Calif.
Marilyn Mason said the biplane has seen its fair share of screen time in music videos, TV shows and movies, including serving as the cropduster in the 1996 alien-blasting blockbuster “Independence Day.”
The Masons run West Coast Spin Doctors and were offering biplane rides and wing-walking demonstrations as part of the Air Affaire.
Marilyn Mason does the wing-walking, which she said she got into with some encouragement from her husband and neighbor Lee Oman, who also has experience with wing-walking.
“It's a lot of wind,” Marilyn Mason said with a laugh, describing what wing-walking is like.
Although not signed up for wing-walking, Sequim resident Dick Lindner, 71, was the first in line Saturday morning for a ride in the passenger's seat of the Masons' vintage biplane.
Lindner, a pilot for about 45 years, said he has always had a love for Boeing Stearmans and has wanted to ride in one for as long as he can remember.
“You've got the wind in your hair,” Lindner said of the open-cockpit biplane.
“So it's like riding a motorcycle rather than driving in a car.”
Hot air balloon rides for $250 per ride lift off beginning at about 7 a.m.
Biplane rides, costing $135 per ride, will be given between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Reservations are required. Both are fully booked for today, but you check for any last-minute openings by contacting Capt. Crystal Stout (balloon rides) at 360-601-2433 and the Masons (biplane rides) at 206-369-9924, or see them at the airport.
Also, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. there will be remote-controlled plane demonstrations and a plane show and shine, as well as vendors and music.
Skydiving is planned at 10 a.m., and a wing-walking demonstration will be at 1 p.m.
For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/AirAffaire, phone 360-670-6294 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at email@example.com.