Bill Nash, an early Pan Am pilot who trained U.S. and British fighter pilots during World War II, will be telling all about his experience flying a Boeing 314 Clipper at Buchan Airport on Saturday.
Nash, 95, will be guest of honor at the Sixth Annual Buchan Aviation Fly-in Breakfast. Fans of aviation are in for a treat. An estimated 40 light vintage, sport and experimental aircraft are expected to fly in to the event — rain or shine — and the public is invited to come and talk to the pilots. Cessnas, bi-wings, and a helicopter will likely be among the aircraft.
Pilots generally are not put off by rainy weather which has dampened the grassy runway — located in the middle of a residential neighborhood — but not the spirits of pilots during past events. There will be an art institute where younger children can make airplanes from supplies they bring.
‘This year, we’re just hoping for better weather,’ said event organizer and founder Russ Kyper.
The exhibition will feature Nash, a former Pan Am pilot who will be coming from Naples and making his second appearance at the event.
He will be discussing his experience flying a Boeing 314 Clipper, which evolved from a sea plane without wheels to become the largest commercial plane in scheduled use until the coming of jumbo jets, according to flyingclippers.com.
‘My time with Pan Am was great,’ Nash said. ‘At that time, Pan Am was all flying boats — airplanes that had no wheels.’
Nash said the memory that stands out the most during his years as a commercial pilot is the time he spent training American and British fighter pilots during World War II.
‘At that time, the armies and navies of different countries did not know much about ocean flying, but Pan Am did,’ Nash said. ‘So President Roosevelt asked (Pan Am founder) Juan Trippe to train the air forces and the naval forces of the U.S. in navigating and flying the ocean. Within 150 miles of shore, we used electronic navigation or radio navigation. All the distance in between, you had to use celestial navigation.
Kyper also has experience flying in Clippers — his was somewhat of a challenge.
‘It seems as though they don’t fly very smoothly because they are very heavy,’ Kyper said. ‘It takes a long time to get them off the water. I do recall that we strapped into the seats. We couldn’t see out because the portholes were up high. There was a long period of crossing the water before it broke free. It’s very interesting the fact that they can lift that thing in the air. Get it going and it flies around like a bird. It’s amazing to some people.’
Gene Naples, who’s been flying since 1945, works with Kyper to bring in pilots to the Buchan Fly-in from Pasco County down to Miami. He lives right beside a hangar at the airport.
‘What I am interested in are the other planes that come in, the antiques,’ Naples said. ‘I know a lot of these guys who come in; some I don’t know. Every year it’s different.’
A catered breakfast featuring quiche, pastry, orange juice and coffee is $6 at the event, but admission is free.
There will be 12-14 vendors on-site selling goods such as radio-controlled planes, aviation books and parts. A historical society, the Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay and U.S. Coast Guard will have tables set up. There will be a craft table where children can make airplanes. There will also be an auction. Up to 30 volunteers work to make the event a success. Proceeds go to Lemon Bay High School’s Aviation Scholarship Fund.
The Sixth Annual Buchan Aviation Fly-in Breakfast will be held 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at 1285 Old Englewood Road, Englewood.