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Airplane lovers young and old swoop in for Cracker Fly-In
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Cliff Halsey gets a close-up look at the engine of a 1947 Stinson during Saturday morning’s 42nd annual Cracker Fly-In at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.

August Watkins, 8, and Tate Watkins, 6, love airplanes.

Grandfather Jerry Henderson said the boys love them so much that they draw airplanes, make paper airplanes and play with model airplanes.

So naturally the two boys had smiles on their faces Saturday morning as they stood at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville for the 42nd annual Cracker Fly-In.

The brothers, who were hoping to win a free ride on a Huey helicopter, were able to look, touch, and even climb in some of the planes.

“They are curious about how they fly, what makes them go, and what makes them stay up in the air,” Henderson said.

Winn Fletcher of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 611, which organizes the event, said the Cracker Fly-In is probably one of the largest aircraft shows in North Georgia.

About 150 aircrafts showed up for prizes and awards, such as “best home built” and “best show.”

Fletcher expected anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 visitors.

Chuck Padgett, a flight instructor at Lanier Flight Center, said the fly-in is a plane lover’s dream come true.

 “You can see the airplanes up close, you can touch them, you can talk to the people that are flying the airplane, and sometimes you are actually talking to the person who built the airplane,” he said.

A 1936 Lockheed 12A plane, used in a movie about Amelia Earhart, also made an appearance. An Austin Healey club was present with the British sports cars.

Expressions on kids’ faces were priceless as planes landed and took off.

Fletcher said that since airport security has gotten so tight, such events allow kids to come out to see what pilots do.

“It gets them up close,” Fletcher said. “All they do is see plane crashes on the TV, and that’s the only news that they get about planes.”

“Kids fear falling out of the sky,” pilot Tod Peavy said. “Unfortunately, plane accidents do happen, but they are few and far between.

“Fear is a lack of knowledge, so if we can give more knowledge to adults and kids about airplanes, they are going to be less afraid of flying.”

Peavy allowed kids and adults to climb in his airplane and take pictures.

“This is just something that I do to share my love of aviation with other people,” Peavy said. “For every kid that wants to look, there are always two adults.”

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