Pilots from across the country landed in Clermont for Fly-In

Black TBM Avenger on display at the Fly-In. This airplane was the largest single engine bomber used in World War II.

Black TBM Avenger on display at the Fly-In. This airplane was the largest single engine bomber used in World War II.
By Jordan Puckett
Sun staff

Sporty’s Pilot Shop hosted its annual Fly-In at the Clermont County Airport Saturday May 18. Pilots from all over the country flew in to the airport to attend aviation seminars and buy from the vendors present.

Vendors included Garmin, Lycoming, Lightspeed, and Bendix/King, among many others. They set up booths under a single large tent and handed out brochures and gave demonstrations to potential customers.

One such pilot was Jerry W. Pendley, from Stanton, Virginia. He has been a pilot for over 50 years and has flown several types of airplanes.

“I’ve always known about the Fly-In here, but this is the first time I was able to make it,” Pendley said. He came with a couple friends to see one of the several seminars that was being given during the day.

In addition to pilots, there were many members of the general public in attendance. They viewed the airplanes that were on display and watched several of them lift off the runway and soar into the air as various pilots showed off their planes’ capabilities.

One of the crowd favorites was a TBM Avenger, a large black plane behind the vendors’ tent. The plane was the largest single engine bomber built for World War II and had once carried torpedoes, bombs, and machine guns before being taken out of action.

President George H. W. Bush, the youngest aviator of his time, flew a TBM Avenger in the war. According to a volunteer with the Warbird Museum, he was shot done in one of the warplanes and crash landed in the ocean in another.

The plane was brought to the Fly-In by the Warbird Museum.

Sporty’s also gave away an airplane at the event as part of their annual sweepstakes. The plane, a yellow Legend Cub worth about $145,000, was on display just outside the vendors’ tent.

Everyone who placed an order with Sporty’s Pilot Shop in the previous year was eligible to win, though in order to get the plane, the chosen individual, or a member of his family, must be a certified pilot. The winner was revealed at noon on the day of the Fly-In.

“It’s always fun to give away a nice airplane,” Michael Wolf, President and CEO of Sporty’s said to the crowd before announcing the winner.

Christopher Boyle, an artist from Arcada, California, was the winner of this year’s sweepstakes. He was unable to attend the Fly-In, so Wolf called him at work and broadcasted the conversation to a crowd of nearly 200 people.

“You are the Sporty’s winner of a brand new Legend Cub,” Wolf told Boyle on the phone. “You have about 200 people here listening to you on the phone. Congratulations on winning the airplane.”

After applause from the audience subsided, Wolf explained how he got Boyle on the phone.

“I was talking to your boss and I think they called you in special today. I don’t think you’re really supposed to be working today,” he said. “Your supervisor…set this up so we could contact you at work today.”

“Great!” Boyle said. “I don’t have to work and I got an airplane!”

The Legend Cub was the 30th airplane given away by Sporty’s.

Next year’s sweepstakes prize is a RV-12 airplane built by Light Sport Aircraft. And pilot who orders from Sporty’s Pilot Shop throughout the year is eligible to win.