A flight of fancy may have been just what the crowd who came to Saturday’s Wings & Wheels on the GreenE event at the Greeneville Municipal Airport needed.
The well-attended fly-in and cruise-in hosted by the Tourism Department of the Greene County Partnership and Greeneville Municipal Airport offered a welcome respite for the public to interact in a socially distanced setting while looking over a variety of aircraft and vintage vehicles.
Mike Besser and his daughter, S.J. Besser, brought along the family’s 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle, parked alongside several hundred other classic cars and trucks.
“It’s a lot of fun. We’re with a ‘Bug’ group here in Greeneville and we try to get together once a month and drive around, kind of like a parade of Bugs,” Mike Besser said. “It’s nice weather, there’s a lot of nice cars and it’s nice to have a lot of like-minded people.”
Cruise-ins “are something everyone likes to do,” Besser said.
Jerry Travis and his nephew, Ron Foshie, stood next to Travis’ 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Travis has owned the car since 1968, and while he was serving in Vietnam, Foshie began working on the classic Chevy.
The result is the distinctive yellow car on display Saturday.
“I’ve been around cars all my life, ever since I was a little kid,” Foshie said.
Travis and Foshie, both of Mosheim, said they enjoyed displaying the car at the Wings & Wheels event.
Nearby, a number of airplanes were parked along the airport runway. Among them was a 1948 Stinson “Flying Station Wagon.” The aircraft is based at Hensley Airpark in Chuckey.
“They’re good old planes,” said Dr. Robert Potter, who has owned the Stinson since 1996.
Potter and his family enjoy taking day trips in the airplane, which cruises at a relaxed airspeed of about 110 miles per hour. He’s logged about 1,300 hours of flying time in the aircraft.
“It’s a very nice flying machine. It’s very stable and it has a lot of forgiving qualities,” Potter said.
The interior is modeled after a 1940s “woody”-type station wagon and includes wood paneling. Potter refurbished the interior of the aircraft, which seats the pilot and a passenger in front and two passengers in a back seat, along with a small luggage compartment.
“It’s more of a hobby and more of an enjoyment for me,” he said.
Potter was happy to participate in Saturday’s fly-in and answer questions about the plane from interested passers-by.
“It’s good to get people out and see things instead of the inside of their house,” he said.
Tom Flaglor sat behind the controls of a red Flaglor High Tow biplane that attracted much attention during the day. He flies out of a private airport in Greene County and was also glad to display the airplane, which was built in 1938.
“It’s great. It’s a good thing for the airport and a good thing for the community,” Flaglor said. “It’s a good resource and we need to support it.”
Ellee Ricker, 3, took a fascinated look inside the biplane while being held up by her father, Tyler Ricker. Mom Beth Ricker looked on. She said the whole family was enjoying the day out.
“(Ellee) loves it. She’s excited to come,” her mother said. “We enjoy car shows.”
“This is some turnout,” added Tyler Ricker.
Visitors to the event watched skydivers, enjoyed food from vendors and also got to see an unannounced flyover of a World War II-era B-17 bomber. Another highlight of the day was the unveiling of a compass rose on the airfield.
The Appalachian Aviatrixes Chapter of the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots and other volunteers painted the compass rose in June. The blue-and-white compass rose is a valuable benefit for pilots. The compass rose displays the magnetic north, and a pilot can pull an aircraft onto the compass rose to check if the airplane’s onboard compass is reading accurately.
Organizers called the Wings & Wheels show a success.
“The event was great. The weather held out for us, the crowd was amazing, we had many more planes than we expected and the turnout for the cruise in was great!” said Tammy Kinser, director of tourism for the Greene County Partnership.
Kinser estimated about 1,500 people attended the event.
“We had over 225 cars and more than 60 planes that flew in,” Kinser said.
Kinser thanked those who helped made the show possible, including Danny Venerable and Grand True Value Rental for their sponsorship, airport FBO manager Steven Neesen and his staff, the Tourism's Sports Council and Tourism Advisory Task Force, the Greene Coat Ambassadors and the Youth Council program.
Kinser said that another Wings & Wheels event is planned for Saturday, Oct. 24.