The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








An RV-8 Experimental Homebuilt aircraft at the museum for a previous event, built by a pilot who will be giving a demonstration at the Fly-In. Courtesy photo.

Homebuilt Aircraft Fly-In

Where: The Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry
When: Saturday, July 11, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $4 for veterans, $2.50 for teens 12 to 16, free for children under 12, $15 max for families

Let ’em fly
Homebuilt aircrafts fly in to the Aviation Museum

By Angie Sykeny

Look to the skies at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire’s Homebuilt Aircraft Fly-In on Saturday, July 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will consist of homebuilt aircrafts on display, demonstrations, family activities and more.

Homebuilt or experimental aircrafts are aircrafts built by hand from scratch, usually in garages or basements, rather than manufactured in a factory. Most are very small, with only one or two seats.
“We feel that it is not a well-understood business,” said Wendell Berthelsen, director of operations at the museum. “The general public probably frowns upon homebuilt aircrafts and thinks they aren’t well-made and risky, but we wanted to expose the public to it so they can understand a little more about them and see what they look like and how they work.”
Pilots will fly their aircrafts to the museum parking lot where guests can view them. Ballots will be made up with a description of each plane for people to vote on their favorites. Awards for the People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice aircrafts will be presented at 2:30 p.m.
At 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Ray Grenier, a homebuilt aircraft enthusiast and pilot, will give guided tours of homebuilt aircrafts and talk to people about the process of building an airplane. The other pilots flying-in their planes will also be available to talk with guests about their aircrafts and answer questions.
“They love talking about [aircrafts] and could spend all day talking about them,” Berthelsen said. “Some of the pilots give lessons on flying and building and some hold workshops, so there’s a tremendous amount of knowledge there for those who are interested in pursuing it further.”
At 11 a.m., Russ Kelsea, a volunteer with the Federal Aviation Administration, will give a seminar on the FAA’s new rules and regulations for homebuilt aircrafts going into effect in 2020.
Two demonstrations will be going on throughout the day. One will be fabric covering of a Kitfox plane, on loan from the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center for the event. Fabric covering is done to give the aircraft extra reinforcement and protection. The second demonstration will be riveting aircraft parts, taking them apart and putting them back together. Guests will also have the opportunity to try riveting the parts for themselves, hands-on.
“People can learn a lot and see some of the craftsmanship put into these planes,” Berthelsen said. “They’re beautiful airplanes, sleek, simple and the pilots are safety conscious about what they do.”
At 2:30 p.m., along with the aircraft awards ceremony, there will be raffle drawings for various aviation prizes, including a one-hour flight lesson at Hampton Airfield, a flight simulation time at Nashua Flight Simulator, a ride in an experimental aircraft, gift certificates to Airfield Cafe in North Hampton and family memberships to the Aviation Museum.
Kids activities ongoing throughout the day include face painting, paper airplane building, and wing rib building projects. Coffee and pastries will be available in the morning and hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream in the afternoon. Guests are also welcome to tour the whole museum.
This is the museum’s first Homebuilt Aircraft Fly-In. It is a difficult event to plan, Berthelsen said, because of the security measures that must be taken. With the museum located so close to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, it needed to get permission from the airport and the FAA to make sure the homebuilt aircrafts would not interfere with the commercial flights.
In the event of poor weather, the aircrafts will not be flying in, but the rest of the day’s activities will still take place.
“There hasn’t been a lot of these [aviation events] here over the years,” Berthelsen said, “so hopefully with this we can contribute and get the public and pilots together to have a good time and celebrate aviation in Manchester.”
As seen in the July 9, 2015 issue of the Hippo. 

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