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Aviation enthusiasts resurrect old aerial scavenger hunts
Pilots search from high in the sky for visual landmarks as part of game
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Members of the EAA Chapter 611 taxi on the tarmac, preparing to take off and search the skies and land during the group’s scavenger hunt. The local chapter resurrected the hunt as an activity for its members during an meeting in April.

While plane enthusiasts love to fly and show off their skills at airplane shows, they like to have a little fun in the air, too.

A new trend — which is a revamp of an old trend — is taking over among the plane enthusiasts. It’s an airplane scavenger hunt.

Shane Crider, president of the Gainesville chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, said EAA Chapter 611 held a pancake breakfast and aerial scavenger hunt in April.

“It’s something some of the guys locally in Gainesville had done years ago and we sort of resurrected it,” he said. “It’s pretty fun and it sounds like other pilots have never heard of it, so we’ve had a lot of interest in it.”

Crider said when he and other younger officers joined the chapter, they brainstormed ways to spark interest in the group and bring the chapter members together.

“We wanted to do something different, so an elder member in the chapter suggested we revisit holding a scavenger hunt,” Crider said.

For each hunt, eight or nine local clues or landmarks are selected. Then a clue sheet is created. Participants are required to find five of the clues, take a picture of each and return to the airfield.

“Because safety is always our first priority, and to avoid everyone leaving out in a mad dash and trying to beat the others back, we timestamp each clue sheet as the pilot taxis by to depart,” Crider said. “Participants are not allowed to see the clues until they are handed their time sheet and are ready to fly.”

Clues are spread across North Georgia counties, but never more than 40 nautical miles.

Crider said the local landscape, including Lake Lanier and the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, makes for a good scavenger hunt setting.

“Some of the pilots are highly competitive and take to the sky as soon as they are given their sheet, while others participate to have fun and enjoy the experience of flying with friends,” he said.

The entry fee per plane was $10. The proceeds were divided into percentages for the top three finishers, but Crider said they typically choose to donate their prize money back to the chapter.

EAA Chapter 611 in Gainesville is a group of aviation enthusiasts, aircraft builders and pilots who get together to share ideas, encourage safety and serve the local aviation community.

Chapter members include professional pilots, students and plenty of men and women who have a passion for aviation. Members don’t have to be pilots or own planes. Enthusiasts are welcome.

Crider said he would encourage other chapters to try an aerial scavenger hunt. He can be contacted at scrider@bellsouth.net.

“At the end of the day, everyone had fun and left with full stomachs,” he said. “And­­ some left with bragging rights until next year’s competition.”

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