Cars and planes have long been favorite pastimes.
When you bring them together at an event called “Wings and Wheels”, it’s a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.
Wheels and Wings events are held across the USA each year. I was fortunate to catch one in the capital city of New Hampshire on a beautiful Saturday. I was impressed with this one. A mix of small airport ambiance, friendly people, great food truck food, entertainment, and some amazing, well, wheel and wings.
The weather was beautiful, a sunny mix of summer-won’t-let go and fall-is-infiltrating… gorgeous.
My excitement was building as I left the main road and followed Waze to the airport. As with most events like this, it took a little while to find a parking space. No surprise that all the good ones were taken, but after some cruising, I found a neat little spot tucked away on the grass right by a hangar. From there, it was only a short walk to the flight line. My first impression rounding the corner onto the expanse of airport ramp was “oh yeah!”
It felt so good to pop out into “my world.” Let me state something about terminology. These events are interchangeably called “Wings and Wheels” and “Wheels and Wings.” Being a pilot, this was about the wings to me. I have to admit, though, the cars were incredible to see as well.
I walked onto a wide-open ramp filled with aircraft and all sorts of interesting displays. The local fire department was there, a kid-pleaser (I must still be a part kid), as was the local police and one of their cruisers (ok, I stopped there later, too.)
What really grabbed my attention, though, was the first vehicle with wings. A brilliant paint scheme on a Civil Air Patrol’s Cessna 182. It was as clean as a State Trooper’s vehicle. You know. Shiny, official, and sharp looking.
(Oh, by the way, the cockpit was as immaculate as the exterior of the plane.)
I had a nice long talk with the Major attending the plane about what it takes to be a CAP pilot. As a former US Air Force officer, I’m hooked. All I need to do now is get a fresh medical, go through some rusty pilot training, get current, and then pay them a visit! Seriously, this is something I’d love to do, so it’s on the bucket list for sure.
Looking around, I noted that the plane was powered up (see the generator?) and the Garmin G1000 was something I needed a closer look at. ADSB was displaying all sorts of cool data from like-equipped aircraft.
Sights and Sounds
RC aircraft were well represented at the event. There are some really skilled RC pilots out there with some large aircraft. Powered by propellers and jets, these planes did some amazing things. I was impressed when they went from level flight to a hang-on-the-prop hover right in front of the crowd. Recovery to level flight was just as skilfully played
There was not one, but two, ICON A5 amphibians at Wings and Wheels! One ready for flight and another with folded wings on a trailer.
You’ve no doubt heard about the A5, referred to as a jetski with wings. It’s an awesome little plane and one of its selling points is a unique piece of instrumentation (at least for general aviation planes) – an angle of attack indicator. There are many other plusses to the A5 and you’ve probably read about accidents that made the news so I won’t go into either of those. I find it a really sweet looking airplane that I’d love a chance to fly!
Let’s just say for the right demographic this plane will be a real winner. It’s beautiful, sporty, and fun.
Take a look at the detail on the A5 in these photos!
Speaking of icons… there were a number of vintage planes on the ramp, well kept and worthy of award. These are the kind of aircraft that make a Wings and Wheels event so special, and when you pretty up the ramp with planes from North American, Cessna, and Piper it makes the day feel that much better!
Another interesting thing about Wheels and Wings (or Wings and Wheels) is the surprises… things you didn’t expect to see but were treated to!
I was walking through the hangar and at the end of the roped-off area where the indoor displays were, I spied what looks like a Grumman Goose having some engine work done on it. I thought for a minute maybe it was a Mallard, but pictures I’ve seen of both only show tail struts on the Goose. Now I could be wrong, and if I am, comment below because I’d like to know.
I also ran across a professional drone flying company that does commercial surveying. They had one of their drones in table display ( see photo) with the cover off of the electronics, and were very nice to talk t about the work they do. I’m not sponsored by them or have any relationship with them. I just wanted to point out the kinds of things you can find at one of these events.
Whether you call it Wheels and Wings or Wings and Wheels, it’s going to be worth a trip.
If you Google either term, you’ll find there a lot of them going on throughout the year (of course, not likely in your area after the cold weather sets in.)
Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your experiences with these events. I found it to be an exhilirating, fun way to spend a few hours of the day.
Do you have a favorite one to visit?