AirFest 2013

Spirits fly high at annual AirFest despite overcast skies and minimal number of aircraft on display

BIG RAPIDS — While the weather was far from ideal during Saturday’s annual AirFest at Roben-Hood Airport in Big Rapids, Mike Lafferty said the weather failed to dampen enthusiasm for the event.

“We hoped for more, of course,” said Lafferty, airport manager. “But the townspeople support us so well.”

In years with good weather, as many as 100 planes may have been on display during the festival, Lafferty noted.

Due to overcast skies and sporadic rain Saturday, only 10 planes were present.

SKYCATCHER: Pictured above is a small engine aircraft parked outside during AirFest in Big Rapids. The SkyCatcher is Colt Aviation’s newest edition to Roben-Hood Airport’s many planes. (Pioneer photos/Justin McKee)

The pilots who bring their aircraft to AirFest fly lower than commercial airplanes, and use landmarks such as roads to stay on course. However, cloud cover prevented pilots from being able to stay at the proper altitude for safe flight.

“(The pilots) need about a 1,500 to 2,000 foot ceiling,” Lafferty said. “They only had 300 to 400 feet.”

The event, which has taken place every year but one since 1996, also featured a pancake breakfast, coney dogs and other lunch food offered by Cranker’s Coney Island, face painting, balloon animals for children and more.

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