GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 13, 2023 – Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV) and its FBO, the University Air Center (UAC) will once again host the Gator Fly-In and Armed Services Appreciation Day on Saturday, March 25, 2023.
A fly-in is a gathering for pilots who arrive by air. The event takes place from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at University Air Center, 4701 N.E. 40th Terrace, Gainesville, Fla. (Enter at General Aviation Entrance, Waldo Road) and is open to the public. Admission and parking are free, and a complimentary shuttle will be provided.
“Our annual Gator Fly-In and Armed Services Appreciation Day is our way of honoring all branches of the military, including some great Gator dignitaries, military and civil aviators who will be flying in many different types of aircraft to the UAC for the event,” says Allan Penksa, CEO, Gainesville Regional Airport. “It’s an exciting day for our community — especially anyone who is curious about flight — to learn more about aviation. We are honored to dedicate this year’s event to our dear friend and Gator Aviator Col. Joe Kittinger with a fitting and poignant ‘Flown West’ ceremony with a squadron of beautiful T-6 Texan and T-34 Mentors. We always look forward to sharing this very special celebration at our airport with the community.”
Celebrating our Military and Distinguished Gator Alumni
Planned events include opening ceremonies with a color guard and flyovers, most notably a T34 “Flown West” ceremony for the late Col. Joe Kittinger, USAF (ret.), Vietnam Prisoner of War (POW), Purple Heart Veteran and holder of the world record for the highest skydive (102,800 feet) from 1960 until 2012. The event begins with the first annual “Col. Joe ‘Pamcake’ Breakfast” at 8:30 a.m. and at 10 a.m., the gates will open to the public, with all participating aircraft in place. Opening ceremonies begin promptly at 11 a.m., with a color guard and drill team from the University of Florida (UF) ROTC program, followed by the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful.” At 11:15 a.m. a T34 Mentor and T-6 Texan “Flown West” ceremony honoring the late Col. Joe Kittinger will commence with participation by the Milton Lewis Young Marines. In addition, invited dignitaries will make speeches. (Invited guests include guests renowned American Aviator and U.S. National Aerobatic Champion Patty Wagstaff and Jamie Beckett, AOPA Ambassador and Pilot Safety Expert, with more to be announced.) Veterans’ groups from the North Central Florida region have been invited to participate.
All branches of the military have been invited to fly in and participate in the event’s static display. We also expect aircraft manufacturers, privately owned aircraft and law enforcement aircraft to be on display.
Best Aircraft Contest and People’s Choice Awards
A “Best Civilian Aircraft” and “People’s Choice: Best Aircraft” contest will be held, allowing event attendees to vote for their favorite aircraft at the Gator Fly-In. The two winners will be announced and presented with awards at 1 p.m.
Live Music, Classic Cars, Kids’ Activities and All-Day Food Trucks
Activities include static aircraft and classic car displays, military trucks, a kid’s corner with face painting, toy airplanes and coloring, arts and crafts vendors, and food trucks. Live Music by The Treetop Flyers will take place throughout the event. In addition to the “Col. Joe ‘Pamcake’ Breakfast” from 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m., food trucks will operate throughout the event. Confirmed food vendors at the event include Cheffrey’s Food Trailer, Mexi Coquina, Mely’s Munchies and Iguana Joe’s Tropical Snow.
Aircraft Rides for purchase – North American T-6 Texan, Robinson 44 Helicopter and Cessna 172; “Swamp Tours”
For a fee, attendees can purchase rides in three different aircraft. Commemorative Air Force, Dixie Wing will provide North American T-6 Texan flights for purchase. A two-seat pilot trainer, the T-6 Texan is an American single-engine advanced trainer used to train pilots during World War II and into the 1970s. Interested parties may purchase T-6 Texan rides in advance of the event at https://airbasegeorgia.org/warbird-rides/ or walk-up tickets can be purchased at the UAC booth in the Mustang Hangar ($250 for 20 minutes; $320 for 40 minutes; $380 for 60 minutes.) Walk-up tickets can also be purchased at the event. In addition, UAC is offering “Swamp Tours” lasting about 15 minutes, in which passengers can fly over the UF Football Stadium in a Cessna 172 ($50) or a Robinson R-44 helicopter ($50).
Jamie Beckett, AOPA Ambassador and Pilot Safety Expert will offer a pilot seminar at 10 a.m. at the UAC Conference Room.
A wide variety of general aviation, corporate, aerobatic, glider and homebuilt aircraft are expected at the Gator Fly-In.
All branches of the military have been invited to fly in and participate in the event’s static display. Confirmed military aircraft will be updated as they are scheduled. We also expect aircraft manufacturers, privately owned aircraft and law enforcement aircraft to be on display. All aircraft are subject to change due to weather, mechanicals and availability.
A schedule for the day follows:
- 7 a.m. Vendors arrive for set up
- 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. First Annual Col. Joe “Pamcake” Breakfast
- 9 a.m. – aircraft arrive and park; all aircraft parked by 9:45 a.m.
- 10 a.m. – Public Arrive; helicopter and airplane rides begin; Pilot Seminar with Jamie Beckett
- 11 a.m. Opening Ceremony
- 11:15 a.m. Flown West Ceremony for Col. Joe Kittinger
- 11:20 a.m. Speakers begin
- 12 noon Live Music, food trucks
- 1 p.m. People’s choice and Best of Show Airplane Contest Announced
- 3 p.m. Final thank you and prep for departures
Please tell your flying friends and anyone who would rather be “flying in.” For more information on the Gator Fly-In and Armed Services Appreciation Day, please contact Pam Landis at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (352) 416-0787, visit the Gator Fly-In Facebook page or https://www.flygainesville.com
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