Warbird show hopes to ‘keep history alive’ for enthusiasts

WOODS CROSS, Utah (AP) — As the vintage aircraft flew over the state Capitol Monday, Chris Ryan banked to the right, tipping his wing down toward Salt Lake City to offer an unobstructed view of the buildings below.

For Ryan and Barry Hancock, flying the Beechcraft Beech 18 twin engine offers them a unique view of Utah and an opportunity to share their passion for flight with their passengers.

The flying pair will have the chance to take passengers up in the air in the recently restored Beechcraft Beech 18 during the Warbirds Over Utah fly-in event on Saturday and Sunday in Woods Cross.

The Beechcraft Beech 18, which was first produced in 1937, has long seen service as an executive and cargo carrier plane. The model even saw service with the United States during World War II as a navigation and bomber trainer. The plane continued production up until the 1970s and continued to serve as a popular civilian aircraft. Hancock’s particular plane, which was built in 1961, once even served as the executive plane for the Mexican president.

Hancock acquired the plane in Arizona from a father and son restoration team. When the father died just short of completing the restoration, Hancock stepped in and asked to help finish the project. After completing the restoration, Hancock was able to bring the plane into his business, Utah Warbird Adventures, which offers flights in vintage and classic aircraft.

“It’s sharing these old airplanes with people and being able to keep history alive,” Hancock said.

Hancock, who has been flying for over 20 years, was first drawn to flight at an air show when he was a child. A fascination for planes eventually grew into a career of flying, training pilots and restoring aircraft.

Sean O’Brien, the president of the Vintage Aviation Museum, said he was excited to include the Beechcraft Beech 18 in the Warbirds Over Utah event.

“One thing that we really found about the Salt Lake area is there is a great passion and a great presence with the aviation community,” O’Brien said. “We are happy to be here and share a piece of history with everybody.”

The warbird fly-in will be the first of what O’Brien expects to be a yearly event at the Skypark Airport in Woods Cross. The Vintage Aviation Museum, based out of Salem, Oregon, is also moving to the Skypark Airport.

O’Brien said the event will offer the opportunity for visitors to get a “hands-on” experience where they can see the aircraft and learn about their history.

The Warbirds Over Utah air show will include flights in Hancock’s Beech 18 as well as the chance to see his T-6 Texan, another World War II icon. Additionally, the show will also include fly-ins from other warbird and vintage aircraft, a car show, World War II re-enactors and military vehicles, including an M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer.

The fly-in will also include an appearance from Gail Halvorsen, the Air Force veteran commonly known as the “Candy Bomber.” Halvorsen gained fame during the Berlin Airlift from 1948 to 1949, when he began to drop candy from his cargo plane during his missions to fly in supplies to Berlin.

Admission to Warbirds Over Utah is $10 per person and $25 for a family of four or more. Kids 12 and under can also get in for $5. The event also offers a 10 percent discount for those with military or first responder ID. Visitors may also enjoy a pancake breakfast for $5 per person.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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