Aircraft attract curious to airport

July 14, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

The experimental plane looked like a robotic praying mantis ready to spring from the Richard A. Henson airfield Saturday at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

Curious spectators gathered around the green ultralight Rans S12 XL aircraft with its open cockpit, scrawny rear end and dangling wires and hoses.

"Where's the rest of it?" they asked plane owner Steve "Yogi" Yogodzinski. "Will it fly?"

It will.

Yogodzinski, 47, flew the unusual aircraft he built three years ago from his home in Amberson, Pa., to the Hagerstown airport for a Summer Fly-In sponsored by Hagerstown Aircraft Services and Hagerstown Chapter 36 of the Experimental Aircraft Association.


The Rans S12 was among dozens of planes - from vintage and home-built aircraft to state-of-the-art planes - on display at the event.

Visitors could also tour the Hagerstown Aircraft Services hangar to see how aircraft are repaired, restored, maintained and painted.

Planes in the hangar included a Bonanza used by Virginia-based Mercy Medical Airlift in the Angel Flight program, which depends upon volunteer pilots and their aircraft to transport patients who can't afford the cost of commercial air travel to medical facilities nationwide.

Hagerstown Aircraft Services recently donated the labor and materials needed to increase the plane's performance, renovate its interior and paint it, organization President Tracey L. Potter said.

"There's a need for these guys and we felt we could help them so we did," Potter said.

Jay Jenkins of Sterling, Va., flew to Hagerstown on the two-seat RV8 he built from a kit four years ago and painted canary yellow "so people can see me," he said.

The small plane can attain speeds up to 200 mph, do loops and rolls and travel across country.

"I call it my magic carpet," said Jenkins, 47, assistant treasurer for US Airways.

Gary Hobbs' turbo-charged 2000 Monney Bravo was more like a flying sports car. The Ferrari dealer from Leesburg, Va., said his plane can fly to 25,000 feet and attain speeds of nearly 250 mph.

The $500,000 aircraft is the fastest single-engine piston plane manufactured, said Hobbs, 53.

Youngster Cameron Thomas set his sights on a sporty $425,000 Piper Saratoga II.

"I'd like to ride in this one," said Cameron, 6, of Fayetteville, Pa. "I'd love to go up in the air."

Many young event visitors got that opportunity through the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles Program. Volunteer pilots offered free flights to kids ages 8 through 17 with the written consent of their parents or guardians.

"I was nervous but it was fun," said first-time flyer Andrew Turner, 14, of Mercersburg, Pa. "It was small like a model. It didn't seem real."

Rik Parks of Hagerstown gathered ideas for the plane he hopes to own after he earns his pilot's license during his "dream retirement."

A six-seater would be ideal for flying the family on vacations and fellow band members to engagements, but at this point he would settle for an aircraft along the lines of Yogodzinski's Rans S12, said Parks, 42.

"I just want to fly," he said.

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