Stop And Smell The Exhaust...

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More Than An 'Air Show'...

While the main fairway -- filled with exhibits and banners and tents, things to look at and things to buy -- is crowded with visitors, the low-key flight lines around the edges are where the true heart of the show is found. Here are the thousands of airplanes flown in by loving pilots and their families and friends, polished and pampered, many of them built or restored by hand, and each of them the pot of gold at the end of somebody's rainbow. Art Culver, a retired American Airlines pilot from North Carolina, spent 10 years building his sleek Seawind amphibian. "I can see why some people never finish," he said. "You just have to keep going and going, and not think about it, till finally one day you run out of parts, and you're done." The fact that he's done seems still to be a surprise to him. He's been flying it for four years now, and he's taken it to Canada and competed in the AirVenture Cup races. It's still pristine, and yesterday [Thursday] he was up on top of the wing, checking the oil level. "I just can't see it," he said, squinting to read the wet dipstick in the bright glare, and a friend on the ground laughed. "Why don't you fly with dirty oil, then, like the rest of us?"