Last Friday, I completed my long cross-country for the commercial rating and attended a gyroplane fly-in at the same time! The commercial long cross-country must be a minimum of 300 miles with one leg greater than 250 miles and 3 different airports visited. To accomplish this, I took a Cessna 172SP from the flying club and flew to Wrens, GA for the Wrens Fall Fly-In hosted by the local EAA (Experimental Aviation Association) chapter, the Peach State Rotor Club and the Carolina Barnstormers (both gyroplane enthusiast clubs). Since Wrens, GA is less than 250 miles from Sanford (236 to be exact), I had to fly past Wrens to reach the 250 mark. Therefore, I flew to Baldwin County Airport in GA (KMLJ). There I refueled and flew approximately 27 miles to Greene County Airport (3J7) and then back 44 miles to Wrens (65J). The flight was smooth, with some actual instrument conditions near the destination and strong winds in Georgia, but something I should be able to handle as a commercial student. Here are some aerial views of Georgia and the clouds coming in to Baldwin County:
Once at Wrens, I tied down the only fixed-wing airplane and waited for the show.
Soon thereafter, gyros began to arrive with an Autogyro MTO Sport flying from Florida parking next to my airplane.
By evening, there were approximately 20 gryoplanes at the airport and I was having a blast hanging out with gyro pilots from Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and even one guy who flew approximately 800 miles from Massachusetts in his gyroplane! He flew over New York City at 9,000 feet to stay above the traffic and watched airliners fly under him into JFK! Great guy to listen to. He has some wonderful stories about flying gyroplanes and trikes around New York City and the Jersey Shore. We all went to eat at an Amish Restaurant (home cooking) and then several people, including me, camped at the airport, while others stayed at the only hotel in town (camping was just as nice).
The next morning, the show began! There were always 4-5 gyroplanes in the air at one time and 20+ airplanes came in to visit as well. I helped judged the gyros for their awards including longest flight and best in show. It was a very busy little airport on Saturday.
There were a nice mix of gyroplanes, including the European style, such as Autogyro and Magni, and purist homebuilt style. I flew back to Sanford on Saturday evening extremely tired but I really enjoyed the trip and the experience.