The Westbridge Airshow was back after a two-year hiatus and judging by the number of people who turned out to watch, it has been missed.
The event, sponsored by the Kettle River Model Flyers, was classed as a fun fly, as opposed to a competition. The pilots were there to demonstrate their skills and answer questions from the spectators.
The list of aircrafts brought to the field this year included both fixed and rotary wing, two quadcopters, a power launch glider and several paragliders, both motorized and non-motorized. Unfortunately wind conditions kept some of the equipment on the ground.
Hosts Willie and Faye Hansinger have developed a portion of their Christian Valley property into a radio control airfield. Roger Liberty, a long-time friend of the Hansingers from Spokane, Washington, was the emcee. According to Faye and Willie’s son Rick, it was Liberty’s suggestion several years ago that the Westbridge airfield be built.
Also on hand was Burt Rutan, who in 2004 made international headlines as the designer of SpaceShipOne, the world’s first privately built manned spacecraft to reach space.
According to his website, Rutan has won more awards for innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer.
SpaceShipOne was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize, the competition created to spur the development of affordable space tourism.
In opening the show, Rutan said that he’d begun flying radio control back in the 1950s. “It is kind of fun talking about the equipment that we had and the things that we flew back when I was in high school,” he said. “It was very unusual to bring a model to the field and not rekit it. You almost never brought it home without crashing it. It was also very unusual to get through a flight without the radio failing.”
Paragliders were on hand again this year. Local Edmond Revere and others often use the site above the Hansinger property to launch. Paragliding and parasailing were referred to as a low impact sport, very easy on your joints.
While the winds were too high on Saturday for them to launch from the top, they did provide a demonstration of something called kiting – a training technique used on flat ground which sees the paraglider pilot bring their wing up over themselves and fly it like a kite. Paraglide instructor Glenn Derouin from ParaGlide Canada in Vernon was also on hand through the day.
Some combat kites were up in the air earlier in the day.
Borderline 4-H Club made hamburgers and hot dogs available through the day. Perhaps the biggest draw for the kids, though, was the candy drop – when Ed Fossen from Rock Creek flew a couple of passes over the airfield to drop candy.
The airshow was dedicated to Willow Spring owners Bill and Bonnie Lupien, who hosted a barbecue at their ranch following the show.