By MARK BRIANT
BREMERTON — For Kitsap County aviation enthusiasts — and that would be most of us — this weekend presents a real treat.
Nearly 500 aircraft will descend on Bremerton National Airport for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s West Coast Fly-In. Pilots and their families will be coming in all day Aug. 19 and depart Aug. 20.
It is the biggest scheduled civilian airplane gathering on the West Coast this year, and second only to the legendary airshow at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, staged each July.
As of Aug. 16, more than 1,600 people had registered, with more trickling in each day.
For first-time visitors to Kitsap County, the Fly-In is a chance to see what this area of the country is all about.
For those lucky enough to live here, it presents an opportunity to show off their hometown and, at the same time, see rare and historically significant airplanes. Those aircraft range from the common — such as a Cessna 172 — to the bizarre (a rare Gweduck amphibian aircraft with three overhead engines) to a legendary and historically significant North American B-25 Mitchell, named in honor of the American aviation pioneer Billy Mitchell.
The B-25 will be offering fundraising “revenue rides.”
The Gweduck, while misspelled (the correct local spelling is “geoduck,” a large species of Puget Sound-area clam), will be on static display throughout the event.
Pilots and their families flying in to the event will get to see the region’s spectacular mountain ranges, fjords, glaciers and the many waterways of the Kitsap Peninsula. Once on the ground, they will have the option to see float planes and the Navy ships berthed in Bremerton, including the carrier John C. Stennis, which just returned with its complement of 3,000 crew members to its home port of Bremerton following a routine seven-month deployment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
All activities are based at Bremerton Airport. Here is the schedule for the two-day event.
6:30–9:30 p.m.: Barnstormers Party, presented by Jeppesen.
7:30-10:30 a.m.: Rusty Pilots seminar.
8–9:30 a.m.: Pancake breakfast.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Exhibits open.
9:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.: Seminars, safety briefings, aviation product showcase, and more.
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Lunch service open.
2:35–3:30 p.m.: Pilot Town Hall with Mark Baker, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
3:30-4 p.m.: Ice cream social.
4 p.m.: West Coast Fly-In ends.