Aircraft fly-ins can become large events with the number of attendees making it difficult to get around them all. The Concrete Vintage Aircraft Fly-In is the opposite of this despite the substantial number of aircraft that show up. Rob Edgcumbe went along for GAR and describes a new event for him.
When I was first told about a vintage aircraft fly-in at a place called Concrete, I thought I was the victim of a windup. However, the place is real and the fly-in is real. Moreover, it is held in a scenic location amongst the hills in the north of Washington State and is a magnet for older aircraft that are a bit unique. It seemed like a great thing to experience.
Drive north of Seattle and east of Interstate 5 and, after about 90 minutes you come to the town of Concrete. The airport has a great museum and the hangars are home to many interesting aircraft. Indeed, if you forget about the fly-in for a moment and just wander between the hangars, you come across all sorts of interesting aircraft and restoration projects underway. This place is a gem.
The fly-in itself attracts a wide range of aircraft. While there are plenty of types that you would expect to see at any airport on a given weekend, the number of Wacos, Bellancas, Stinsons etc is quite amazing. Each time something appeared on the runway, I found myself checking with the people around me exactly what it was. Older civil aircraft types are not my speciality and at this event I was definitely in need of help in knowing what everything was.
Both sides of the runway provide parking space and visitors are free to cross the runway to see what is on the opposite side. A team of marshals was busy at work directing the arriving aircraft to a space while allowing the aircraft already there to head out for a little flying fun when the chance arose. The skies may have been a bit overcast but conditions were still good enough and the surrounding hills, while imposing, did not seem to limit the number of arriving types. The wind was a little variable resulting in a couple of changes of runway direction but was a crosswind for part of the day challenging a few of the arrivals!
As with most good fly-ins, the attendees took the chance during the day to get the planes out and flying. Consequently, there was a steady stream of arrivals and departures. Indeed, it was quite busy on the ground so, the planes that headed out for a while meant there was a bit of space for some of the new arrivals to park.
Towards the end of the day, the weather started to pick up. The skies cleared and the sun came out. The wind changed direction again as the sun on the hills started to pull the air through the valley. With activity dropping off a bit, some of the locals were able to relax for a while and get their own planes out for a trip and a blast across the field too.
Concrete is a little out of the way but that is at the heart of its charm. A great collection of based aircraft in the varied hangars, plenty of visitors of many types and a welcoming atmosphere for the visitor. This is exactly the sort of thing an aviation event should be.