...And Goes Up, Up and Away -- In A Potential LSA...

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After slipping away from the media throng at the Sport Pilot center, Blakey and crew made a beeline for the ultralight area, where 2,000-hour instructor Kenley Snyder and his green and orange Quicksilver Sport 2S steed were waiting. Blakey strapped into the Quicksilver to the admiring comments of the ultralight faithful, winning minds and hearts in a way Harrison Ford should note. The day before Blakey's visit, Ford refused to consider a ride in an ultralight, telling media he had "a strong desire to keep living." Word of the comments made it back to the Farm quickly. "Blakey has bigger [hand]s than Harrison Ford," said one EAA-er who asked to remain unnamed (probably because, aside from the plurality of the noun, that's not exactly what he said). According to another, she certainly had little to worry about. Ultralight/Light Plane Convention Chairman Bart Gaffney said Blakey's pilot was one of the "best of the best." But even the best skills can't overcome weather, and it wasn't a great day to be flying in an ultralight, certainly not for the first time.

"We had a lot of mechanical winds over the trees," Snyder told AVweb. "So we kept the speeds down to 35-45 mph. She was a real trouper." On a flyby, Blakey waved and smiled to the cheering crowd lining the runway below. "I loved it," she said after landing. "It was the neatest experience I've ever had, just fantastic! It's the first time I've been up in a plane and been able to look through my legs and see the ground." "She mentioned that up in the air," said Snyder. "She thought it was great. She kept saying, 'look at this, look at this!'" Frank Beagle is the voice down on the farm -- the announcer there for years. He talked to Blakey after her flight. "It gives us a sense that yes, they (FAA) really do like fun flying, and are willing to come down and experience it," he told AVweb. "For the average ultralight pilot, it's reassurance that our rights won't be revoked. I'm just tremendously happy with all her comments." Responding to the chief's example, a number of Blakey's top lieutenants grabbed ultralight rides down on the farm as well.