July 11, 2018 — Thousands of interested individuals and families made their way to the Florence Municipal Airport on Saturday morning for the eighth annual Wings and Wheels Fly-in and Car Show.
The crowds gathered on a beautiful summer day to wander through rows of well-maintained automobiles from by-gone eras and among restored military airplanes that were at one time instrumental in maintaining American freedom and independence.
Organizers for the event did face some challenges this year, as one of the event’s featured aircraft experienced technical difficulties in the air as it was making its way to Florence.
The Vought F4U Corsair that was scheduled to appear Saturday was forced to make a repair stop in Red Bluff, Calif. That repair required the aerial pick-up and delivery of a part by the second plane that was to be featured at the show, a North American T-6 Texan.
After a delay of a few hours, the repair was completed, and the Corsair again attempted to make its way to Florence. Unfortunately, white smoke billowing from the engine compartment forced the plane back to the airfield and another plane was called in from California to replace the damaged Corsair.
The danger faced by the pilots of these older planes seemed far from the mind of Doug Griffin, the pilot of the damaged plane, and its replacement, as he described the Corsair’s difficulties.
“We were going to bring the Corsair, but she needed some work, so we brought her back and substituted this airplane, which is still a Navy carrier fighter,” he said.
The second plane ended up being a Grumman F2 Wildcat, which was used by the U.S. Navy later in World War II.
“When this plane was first produced and delivered to the Navy, it was originally delivered to Tillamook,” Griffin said.
He also commented very positively on the Wings and Wheels event, which he clearly enjoys.
“We like coming to this show, as there’s always a great turnout with lots of people, especially for a small town. We were here in the Mustang two years ago and the World War II SBD Dauntless last year,” Griffin said. “We really enjoy coming here, it’s a lot of fun.”
Members of the public paid for rides in the T-6 Texan and flights were also available from AeroLegends, which offers rides in a 1944 Stearman Kaydet biplane, the same model that was featured in the Alfred Hitchcock film “North by Northwest.”
“It’s no different than flying a modern plane or a plane made today,” Griffin said about flying the historic planes. “All the pilots that fly these planes are also mechanics, so we are familiar with what can go wrong, and we are prepared for most situations that come up.”
The other main draw at Wings and Wheels were the 110 classic automobiles that entered the car show portion of the event, which was coordinated by the Oregon Coast Hot Rod Club. Central Oregon Coast Britich Car Club also showcased vehicles.
A total of 32 trophies were handed out, with Dave Walmer of Portland winning Best in Show with his 1915 Overland Speedster.
New this year was the Cloud City Garrison of the 501st Legion, a nonprofit Star Wars costume group with several local members. For more info, visit cloudcitygarrison.com.
Back In Time provided rocking music throughout the day, including crooned favorites, doo-wop hits and a variety of oldies.
Wings and Wheels’ other vendors and exhibitors included the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 23, Veterans of Foreign Wars – Post 3232, Florence Police Department, Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue, Western Lane Ambulance District, Florence Siuslaw Lions Club, Mo’s Restaurant, Eugene Metro Bomb Squad, Central Oregon Coast Amateur Radio Club, Florence Area Radio Control Aircraft Association and more.