F.I.T. Aviation Day at Melbourne International Airport

This will be one of my least exciting posts. I am really just trying to learn a little more about the available features. You will notice a handful of links and pictures inserted, but not much “meat.” If you are having trouble sleeping right now, this could be a good one to read. I will make it a little better in the near future, but the truth is that there just isn’t much to this one. Check out the Florida Biplanes link though. They have some nice content on their site.

So, I got to Florida a couple of weeks ago. Specifically the Space Coast around Cape Canaveral. I was interested in relocating to a warmer climate, so I came here to see if I can get something happening. I have been interviewing and helping Dorene Taylor –a long-time business associate from Digital Fusion Group with some work. I work for her company on occasion and she’s simply one of the best people I know on this planet, so it’s great just hangin’ out with her.

I was starting to feel a bit useless as the work for her slowed down. I’m still interviewing, but I hadn’t really done anything terribly interesting since I got here. Dorene –or D. as I call her– has been involved with the local Chamber of Commerce since she got to the area and Monday I got to meet another fantastic person by the name of Darlene Montano. She, like D. is an over-achiever and over utilized person. These types are my favorites since I have a need to stay busy constantly myself.

I got a chance to pick her brain about who’s who in aviation around here and she immediately spouted off the name Mark Grainger from Florida Biplanes. I decided to head over there the next day to see if I could meet Mark. Aviation people are normally pretty good judges of character, so I thought it to be a good idea to just get in front of him.

Well, he wasn’t there. He flies commercially a few days a week and I showed up on a day he wasn’t around. However, I did run into his 2nd in command, Steve Nesbitt. Steve was on the phone when I walked in and his dog and I got to know each other quite well as I waited. He was a large Irish Setter who seemed to find that my hands were quite tasty. I was unable to convince him that they were in fact not chew toys. Let’s just say that Steve got off the phone just in time.

I handed him my resume and we talked for about a half hour -maybe forty minutes. I told him of my interest in older aircraft. He was interested in my exposure to the old school methods as well as the new stuff happening in aircraft structures. I told him how I had built a small section of wing out of fabric and wood once as a project.

During the latter part of our impromptu meeting, I asked about an event I heard about on the radio on the way to Florida Biplanes’ hangar called Aviation Day hosted by F.I.T. Aviation. He gave me a quick run-down and I asked him if he needed any help. At first he told me they were well covered, but then mentioned he might call. I guess he discussed it with Mark and decided to take me up on my offer.

I told him I’d be thrilled to help out and we set a time to meet at their hangar. I showed up at 8am on the day of the event. No more than 10 minutes later I was on board Florida Biplanes’ 1953 Hiller UH-12 Helicopter piloted by Eric Howe. We took off and headed to the F.I.T. hangar at Melbourne International Airport. Steve Nesbitt took off behind us in their 1941 WACO UPF7.

I spent the day wiping down the biplane, loading people, keeping the guys alive by hunting down water. I got to know them and see how they operate. I even had time to learn some stuff about the biplane and the chopper. There was a lot going on. A lot of people showed up as there was a car show which seems to be joining most aviation events these days. I saw some great stuff pull into the lot like a police car of the type used in The Blues Brothers. There was another that was like the unit that had the rear end jerked out from under it in American Graffiti. There were a lot of the usual suspects like 60s Muscle cars, but there were a lot of the late model remakes too. There were even two monster trucks there which you don’t see at every car show. F.I.T. is also a flight school and four of their student pilots did formation fly-overs.

The unfortunate thing is that I was so busy with Florida Biplanes that I really didn’t get to see much. I was happy for them though. The airplane and helicopter rides were constant and I did enjoy helping out. The plane had to be wiped down after just about every ride. The riders all wear vintage style canvas helmets and a headset for communication while flying. Those had to be sanitized after each run. I met a lot of great people while there and hope to get a line on a decent job from some of the contacts. Thanks for reading. Come back and look for cooler stuff in the near future.

 

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