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The Shawnee News-Star
  • More than 1,000 attend fly-in

  • Relics and prototypes were on display in Shawnee Saturday for the fifth annual Pilots and Pancakes Fly-In at the Shawnee Regional Airport.
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  • Relics and prototypes were on display in Shawnee Saturday for the fifth annual Pilots and Pancakes Fly-In at the Shawnee Regional Airport.
     
    Cold, cloudy conditions could not keep more than 1,200 visitors away from the dozens of aircrafts and 2,000-plus pancakes served by the Shawnee Rotary Club throughout the morning and afternoon.
     
    The 2012 fly-in was deemed a success, even though there were fewer planes and people this year over last year. This year officials expanded the offerings of the fly-in, providing an air show at the event that featured more than 12 performers.
     
    "I think, considering the weather, I was very pleased," airport manager Rex Hennen said.
     
    The weather was a biting 46 degrees at 10 a.m., and the clouds did not let up, which Hennen said was the reason the turn out was less than last year's 2,500 estimated attendance.
     
    "Last year the weather was absolutely perfect," Hennen said.
     
    This year, attendees were able to admire airplanes to the tune of old television theme songs, like the Beverly Hillbillies, Batman and the Addams Family, during the fly-in. Old aircraft were there like the Lady Liberty, an A-26 Bomber "Invader" built in 1944 that flew 17 missions over Europe in World War II as part of the 9th Air Force.
     
    The Lady Liberty Squadron, based out of Enid, provided cockpit tours and talked with curious aviation fans about the plane.
     
    "This type of plane flew in World War II, Korea, and had a very long service history," David Emerson, crewmember of the Lady Liberty Squadron, said. "Its specialty was going after convoys, troops, trucks, trains, anything that had supplies going to the front lines."
     
    Engineering students from Gordon Cooper were present with a robot they designed and built. The engineering feat won each member a $500 scholarship. It was controlled from a desk that resembled Nintendo controllers on steroids, with two joysticks and other high-tech gadgetry.
     
    Bird's-eye views of Shawnee were also available to youths through the Experimental Aircraft Association. Members of the group took groups up in their planes to promote interest in aviation among kids. Helicopter rides were also available for $30.
     
    Opening ceremonies started around noon and the air show followed after a few speeches.
     
    Brandon Kurtwright and his son, Warren, 6, both enjoyed the fly-in, and both went on a helicopter ride over Shawnee, where they live.
     
    One word summed it up for Warren.
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    "Awesome," he said.

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