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Wings and Wheels lands perfectly

Wings and Wheels lands perfectly

reporter photo

Aircraft buzzed overhead and car engines revved on the ground Saturday during the 8th annual Wings and Wheels car and airshow at Robertson Airport.

The star of the show on this picture-perfect day was the North American AT-6A Texan, an old training aircraft used during World War II. Saturday, it took passengers on low banks and flyovers, letting out the occasional trail of mineral oil smoke.

Whenever the plane’s engine roared to life and it made its way toward the runway, families who had been checking out the half dozen other planes parked nearby crowded near the runway to watch the warbird lift off.

Meriden resident Jannett Johnson said being able to take a ride in the historic plane, which still consists of parts made over 75 years ago, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience made even more powerful knowing her own father was in the war.

Mark Simmons, the pilot, even allowed Johnson to take control of the craft a few times, which she said makes driving a breeze in comparison.

“Being above it all and looking down … things look so tiny,” Johnson said.

Nicole Palmiere, a member of the Wings and Wheels planning committee, said this year’s event was larger than ever, with the addition of 17 food trucks and a touch-a-truck. Also, the hours were expanded to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., adding four hours to the event.

“It’s a great way for the community to spend a day together,” and do good at the same time, Palmiere said.

Proceeds from the event are split between the Petit Family Foundation and the Plainville Food Pantry. Palmiere said the goal was to raise between $13,000 and $15,000 for each of the nonprofits.

Nick Scata, owner of the company which manages the airport, Interstate Aviation, said the show had something for everybody.

While a ride in the warbird cost $265 and could only seat one passenger at a time, a five-minute trip around Plainville in a helicopter was a relatively small sum at $30.

Lifestar was on-scene much of the morning to show off its cabin and allow the public to speak with the crew. The Lifestar contingent had to take off for a call shortly after noon.

Brandon Berlin, a pilot with Premier Flight Center, said he hopes to see more people become interested in aviation, particularly the children who clamored into the two seats of the Piper PA-28 they had flown in to Robertson from Hartford to show off for the day.

“They see things in the sky and they wonder if that could be them one day, and then get to see it on the ground,” Berlin said.

While his son, Reid Caravaca, inspected the propeller and landing gear of a plane, Plainville resident Alex Caravaca said opening up the airport for the day and having so many residents visit builds up the community and gives families something to do together.

“I was always interested in aviation as a little boy. I remember my dad showing me how wings work,” Caravaca said, adding that it’s nice to be able to share an experience like Wings and Wheels with his son.

Twitter: @leith_yessian