Aviation buffs preview Oakland Co. airport open house

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Waterford Township — Barrie Lynn Wood stepped out of the 1928 Ford Tri-Motor airplane smiling and elated after a brief flight Thursday afternoon over several northern Oakland County lakes.

Wood, was one of 10 aviation fans on the flight getting a preview of some of the activities planned Sunday during the Oakland County International Airport’s 30th annual Open House & Air Show.

“My husband flew out of this airport for years,” said Wood, a Goodrich resident. “I figured this would be a nice anniversary present for us.”

On Thursday, visitors like Wood plunked down $75 ($50 for children 17 or under) for a ride in the historic Tri-Motor, known as the “Tin Goose.”

“It’s like taking a step back in history,” explained the Tri-Motor’s pilot, James Maxfield of Northville, who is a member of the EAA Aviation group, which has the aircraft on loan from the Liberty Aviation Museum of Port Clinton, Ohio.

The Tri-Motor aircraft was first produced by auto pioneer Henry Ford in 1925. A total of 199 of the three-engine, transport aircraft were built between 1926 and 1933. They were used primarily for civil aviation but also in military service.

Outside of a $5 parking fee, the Open House and Air Show is primarily a free, daylong event from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

From 2-3 p.m. Sunday, the Dacy Air Shows pilots will perform aerobatic maneuvers in stunt biplanes and other aircraft. Susan Dacy, one of a few women performing at airshows in a biplane, will fly her Super Stearman she calls “Big Red.”

The airport’s new World Heritage Aviation Museum will display several rare Cold War-era jets among nearly 50 aircraft visitors can see and photograph, including the Yankee Air Force’s B-25 and C-47 airplanes, Tuskegee Motor Gliders, and Roundball One, the Detroit Pistons’ private jet.

Beaumont One, Beaumont Health’s air medical transportation service, will demonstrate a mock accident rescue with the Waterford Township Fire Department.

World War II military vehicles also will be on display. Remote control giant scale aircraft operators will fly demonstrations as well.

“Whether you’re an aviation buff or just a kid deep down inside, the Open House & Air Show has something for everyone,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “This truly is an event the whole family can enjoy.”

Airport director David Vanderveen said the open house annually draws about 20,000 visitors.

“It’s a great opportunity to rekindle interest in aviation with young people,” said Vanderveen, noting that 60 percent of professional pilots are nearly retirement age.

Other free activities include a play area with bounce houses and a rock wall. Bill Crell, “The NASA Guy,” will show off his latest experiments and demonstrations.

A health and safety fair will be held from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. including the Michigan Child ID Program. For more information, go to www.OakGov.com/aviation.


(248) 338-0319