Helicopters on the Rise

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On Saturday, June 21 some 8000 people decided it was a perfect day for an airshow in Northern California, and they all came to San Carlos KSQL just 15 miles from San Francisco.

The event is called Vertical Challenge, and it’s unusual primarily for the aircraft: They’re all vertical takeoff and landing types. This is appropriate in that the sponsoring agency is the Hiller Aviation Museum. Stanley Hiller founded Hiller Helicopter nearby, and over the years accumulated an amazing “attic.” This was the ninth time the event has been held, and the range and number of VTOL machines are increasing. There were the usual parachute drops and fly-by’s, but the real eye-opener was the aerobatic demonstration by the Red Bull machine. It’s not often one sees a rotary-wing aircraft doing loops and rolls.


With a dozen static displays of military equipment there was ample opportunity to chat with the crews and sit in the Blackhawks and Cobras.

The museum itself was open for the price of admission to the show and included a half-dozen flight-sim stations that were so popular that start-time tickets were being issued.

Ten members of the PanAm Flight Attendants club were there in their original uniforms dating back to as early as 1949. One quipped that anytime it won’t fit she goes on a diet.

Airshow coverage sponsor:

Go to www.hiller.org for information about next year’s show.

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KITPLANES readers will remember Bob Fritz (1947-2011) for his acclaimed Home Machinist series, but his accomplishments go well beyond that long-running feature. Following a stint in the U.S. Navy, Bob put his degree in mechanical engineering to use and was a tireless advocate for effective and consistent quality control. He brought that discipline to his work for KITPLANES. An avid diver and motorcyclist, Bob's love of flying was a surprise to no one.

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