Guest Blog: Flying Just For The Fun Of It


How many of us are interested in fun flying? We occasionally use our airplanes for transportation, but for the most part, don’t we fly for fun? Have you attended a grass-roots fly-in and done some fun flying? If not, you should. Here’s why.

Get any group of pilots together and the topic invariably turns to the high cost of flying. Unless you have money to burn, it’s hard to justify the cost of using an airplane for fun flying. Many of us had high hopes that the FAA light sport regulations would reduce the cost of flying. It hasn’t happened. The cost of a basic LSA is still $100,000-plus. We all know the reasons and I won’t belabor the point.

There are alternatives for fun flying and it’s the lighter side of aviation. I was unaware of light aviation until 2004 when I had to land the airplane I shared with other pilots in a saltwater marsh due to engine failure at 400 feet. The insurance company totaled the airplane and it went to the scrap yard. Until that point, I flew the standard Cessnas, Pipers and a 1980 Mooney M20J with two other pilots. The Mooney was a nice airplane and efficient transport but I wouldn’t say it was “fun” or inexpensive to fly. In fact, I had to work to stay current and it although we strived to keep costs low, it wasn’t cheap.

A few years later a friend took me flying in his Vans RV-6. It’s a nice airplane and it is fun to fly. At his airport, I noticed an advertisement for a Quicksilver GT-500. My friend invited me to come back the next day as the owner of the GT-500 and a bunch of other pilots were getting together for their weekend flying. His airport is a very nice grass strip in rural southern Indiana. We went flying in the GT-500 and I was hooked. The GT-500 is not very light as it has a gross weight of 1100 pounds but this got me started toward lighter airplanes and fun flying.

The GT-500 is a nice airplane. The engine is in the rear, I’m sitting out front of the wing tandem style so the visibility excellent and I can fly it with the doors on or off. To me, this is so much better than sitting inside of a metal airplane. I’m not going anywhere, I want to enjoy the view and this is why I fly and why it’s fun.

I have since learned to fly a single-place Quicksilver MX. In an MX, you sit below the wing, in the wind, no fuselage and with the engine behind. It is a blast to fly. If you’re a pilot, you like to fly for fun and have never flown a Quicksilver MX, you have to put this on your bucket list. It’s hard to describe the free feeling of being one with the air and low and slow just above the fields. You get a sense of everything. It’s just so cool!

Flying doesn’t have to be all serious. When many of us learned to fly, we were taught to nail the airspeeds, follow the rules, don’t do this, don’t do that and so on. Flying is not fun. It’s serious business. Then the fun evaporates and we lose interest and motivation. I’m not advocating reckless flying, of course, but why can’t an airplane be a toy and used for fun?

The man that I purchased the airplane from introduced me to Mark Smith, the founder of Tri State Kite sales. I’ll leave Mark’s history to another time, but suffice it to say that Mark was one of the founders of the ultralight movement. He taught hundreds, if not thousands of people how to fly. Mark has since passed away, but he left a legacy of the Posey Patch airfield, some excellent modifications to Quicksilver airplanes and a group of pilots dedicated to keeping inexpensive, grass-roots flying alive.

Inexpensive fun flying and small grass airfields go together. Posey Patch, in southern Indiana, is one such grass strip that keeps grass-roots flying and light aviation alive. The people who fly at Posey Patch fly for fun. They enjoy flying just for the sake of flying. Here is a video made by the local television station.

Mark started a tradition of having a fly-in the early summer (June) and fall (September). Pilots get together, fly, teach and help each other with their airplanes. What brings us together is the fun of flying. At meal time, someone starts the grill (usually Terry), cooks some hamburgers and hot dogs and we all chip in for expenses. The fly-in is hosted by Tri-State Kite Sales.

By my estimation, there are just three rules at this fly-in: (1) Be considerate and courteous. (2) Fly safe. (3) Pay for what you use. You can fly when you want and come and go as you please. In the evening, just about everyone is up flying.

After attending AirVenture this year, I was struck by the contrast to the Posey Patch fly-in. AirVenture is big and corporate with all kinds of rules. Yes, the rules are important for the safety of everyone but it sure is nice to know that the Posey Patch fly-in and grass roots flying still exist.