Gator Fly-In to take off on Saturday

Planes flying into airports may seem like everyday operations, but the exception to the rule will come Saturday at the Gator Fly-In and Armed Services Appreciation Day at the University Air Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A partnership between the air center and the Gainesville Regional Airport, the fly-in will feature a host of aircraft to view and opportunities for rides in a North American T-6 Texan, Robinson 44 Helicopter, and Cessna 172.

The rides will take passengers out over UF for a “Swamp Tour.”

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The opening ceremony will start at 11 a.m. and include a flyover by United States Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. Following the opening ceremony will be a T34 “Flown West” ceremony that will honor the late Marine Cpl. Bob Gasche, a WWII veteran who fought on Iwo Jima.

The ceremony will start at 11:15 a.m. and feature a flyover by two T-34B Mentors and a North American T-6 Texan.

Several Gator alumni will speak during the ceremony, including retired USAF Col. Joe W. Kittinger; Richard G. McSpadden Jr., senior vice president of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Air Safety Institute; Jamie Beckett, AOPA ambassador and pilot safety expert; and Captain John “Lites” Leenhouts, a Navy veteran and CEO of Sun ‘n Fun.

Static displays will feature P3, TW4, TW5, VT2, T6s and Chinooks along with other privately owned and law enforcement aircraft.

Visitors can participate in two contests to determine the “Best Civilian Aircraft” and “People’s Choice: Best Aircraft.”

Other activities include food trucks, live music, classic car displays, military trucks, face painting, coloring booths, and arts and craft vendors.

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