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Get a glimpse of history
Fly-in features Amelia Earhart replica as well as plenty of newer models with the latest gadgets
0703Cracker
Small planes and even a few roadsters will be on display on Saturday at the 40th annual Cracker Fly-in at the Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.

If you've ever wanted to see a Cessna up close, you'll have your chance this weekend at the 40th annual Cracker Fly-in.

Personal airplanes from about a 200-mile radius will be flying in to the Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport on Saturday for what's essentially a car show with wings, according to organizer Wynn Fletcher.

"There will be everything out there - there will be brand-new home builts that guys have built in their basement, there will be kit planes where a guy will build a plane from a kit he orders. Maybe it's halfway built that then he assembles it," said Fletcher, president of the local Chapter 611 of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

"And then there's guys with production aircraft, maybe a Cessna or Piper that was built in a plant. It may be really old or may be brand-new."

The general public will also have a chance to look inside the planes, some of which will be showing off high-tech instrument panels previously only available on commercial airplanes.

"We have brand-new aircraft out there, too, with computerized glass panels for instruments," he said. "It's now trickled down to general aviation."

One of the biggest stars at this year's fly-in is a Lockheed 12A restored replica of Amelia Earhart's plane. It's been recently used for filming of "Amelia," a movie starring Hillary Swank, which is due out next year.

Fletcher said the plane's current owner found it in a barn in Texas, spent two weeks fixing it before flying it back to Georgia, and then replaced nearly every bolt to bring the plane back to its original splendor.

The fly-in was originally held on the Fourth of July each year, but due to the amount of activities on that day, Fletcher said the show was moved to the first Saturday after the holiday. This year, it just so happens that's the day after the Fourth.

And while there won't be many corporate or wartime planes, Fletcher added that the show is a chance to get up close and personal with some interesting planes. Often, he said, he forgets how few Americans have seen a plane up close on the tarmac.

"It's also kind of our way of letting the community come out to the airport and see what we do out there, and bring the kids," he said.

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