THOMASVILLE — The sound of multiple airplane engines will fill the air this weekend for the 40th annual Thomasville Fly-In.

The event, held at the Thomasville Regional Airport, is a three-day affair, featuring hundreds of airplanes in a variety of styles.

“We have displays of all different types of airplanes,” said Irv Nesmith, president of the Thomasville Aviation Club, which puts on the event in collaboration with the City of Thomasville. “There’s classic, experimental, home built and we have been promised one of the oldest, rarest aircraft engines that will still run, a Continental IV-1300. It will be displayed on a trailer and turned on.”

Nesmith said if good weather permits, he expects approximately 500 planes for the event. He said most of the planes come from the southeast, specifically Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

“A lot of these airplanes will be from our past such as ‘war birds’ as we call them and training planes,” said Nesmith, who has been with the event for its 40 year tenure. “A lot of them the younger generation hasn’t been able to see before. People should come out to see past aviation history and some of the new airplanes.”

Charlie Hall has been a member of the Thomasville Aviation Club since 2000. He has a Piper Cherokee, but said no club members display their planes on the field. They stay in their hangars, leaving the open field available for visiting aircraft.

“I enjoy seeing all the different airplanes and talking to the different pilots and people who come in,” he said. “You get everyone from doctors to mechanics who work on their own planes. Last year, I actually got to meet a rocket scientist with NASA who flew in for the event.”

Nesmith said many pilots fly in on Saturday, spend the day and depart that afternoon.

“The fly-in is becoming a southeastern event,” he said. “In the beginning, if we had 30 airplanes, we thought we had a great big fly-in. At one time, we were also confined to a little spot at the airport. Now it is 500 airplanes that wrap all around the airport!”

The Power of the Past Aircraft Engine Museum will be open during the event and foods on site include boiled peanuts, hot dogs, hamburgers, Italian meal (Friday evening) and barbecue (Saturday evening).

“Everyone is welcome to come,” said Nesmith. “There will be good food, shorter lines and reasonable prices.”

Popular activities, the Candy Drop (where aircraft drop approximately 100 pounds of candy into an open field for the masses) and a spot-landing contest, also return for another year.

Bill Lardin, aviation club member, said the fly-in is very beneficial to the local economy.

“Most who bring an airplane will need some fuel and that enhances the city’s position because they are the only vendor of fuel at the airport,” he said. “This also helps keep the fuel price down for the locals. In addition to that, the fly-in is unique in the milieu of fly-ins because no admission is charged to attend it. The only revenue it — the Thomasville Aviation Club — takes in is derived from the sale of foods. That money goes to help with costs to enhance local aviation. We just built a permanent shower facility here, which will make it so camping folks sleeping in tents under the wing of their airplanes will have a hot shower when they need it.”

Nesmith stressed that, although Saturday is the main day, the public is welcome any time during the event.

“The public is invited to come out all three days, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “Feel free to come any time.”

Hall said enthusiasts and first-timers should all find something of interest at the fly-in.

“This event lets enthusiasts get together and visit with one another and learn about other people’s aircrafts,” said Hall. “At the same time, we hope that with the fair in town and everything going on around us, that people are in the mood to get out and see some airplanes. Maybe they will catch the bug.”

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