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Simsbury Fly-In Returns Sept. 17

The 32nd annual Simsbury Fly-In and Car Show will feature around 700 unique airplanes and vehicles when it returns to the Simsbury Airport, on Sept. 17.

Bill Thomas, a member of the Simsbury Flying Club that organizes the event, said you never know what might show up to the event each year.

"On both the airplane and the car side, we don't restrict to specific models or vintages like some shows do," Thomas said. "Anyone can bring anything. Part of the fun is to see what shows up. And you never know what will show up."

Specifically, that's one of Thomas' favorite parts about the event. No limits means lots of unique airplanes and vehicles on display. One year, a refurbished city bus appeared.

"This is a chance to really get up close to airplanes and talk to the owners and look inside," Thomas, a Canton resident, said. "That's a different kind of experience for people. We're used to seeing cars, but the cars that are on display range all over the place. A lot of the cars are cars people haven't seen before. We get cars that go back into the 1920s."

The Simsbury Fly-In started as a gathering of aviation enthusiasts more than 30 years ago. It caught on to both enthusiasts and the public, and soon, a handful of airplanes turned into several hundred.

"It turned out that it was a real success so everybody said let's do it the next year and the next year it got bigger," Thomas said. "It finally got to the point after not too long that we had to end up organizing it and started committees. At a certain point, it began to attract public attention, so we had spectators that came. It was organic growth."

It turned out that a year with bad weather caused the fly-in to add vehicles.

"Maybe 10 or 12 years into the event, we had a poor weather day, so very few airplanes could fly in, but as it happened, some folks had shown up with antique cars, and that was a hit," Thomas said. "The idea then was why don't we in future years invite the car folks along with the airplane folks."

The event now is a happy combination of airplanes and vehicles, Thomas said, and a day that feels very much like a country fair meant for families.

"It began to grow to the point where we said we better do more than just have cars and airplanes," Thomas said. "Let's do some other activities, like kids activities. Let's do some seminars. Let's do some demonstrations. I describe it very much like a country fair. It really is. It feels that way. There's lots of activities and lots of noise. It's really a family event."

This year, a B-17 Bomber from World War II is planned to fly over the event. A gyrocopter demonstration will be one of the most unique events, Thomas said. There will also be Flying Tiger artifacts from the New England Air Museum on display.

A full list of events planned for that day is available on simsburyflyin.com. There is no admission to gain entrance into the fly-in, but donations are appreciated. Nearby parking is available for $10, with proceeds benefiting a local Boy Scout troop.

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