Thursday, September 29, 2016

Columbus Air Force Base to host civilian 'fly-in'

Andy Owens stands with his plane at the Columbus-Lowndes Airport Wednesday afternoon. He will participate in the Oct. 15 civil fly-in at Columbus Air Force Base.

Next month, Columbus Air Force Base will welcome civilian aviators to land on its runway for the first time in four years.

The base is hosting a civil fly-in, which allows registered civilian pilots to fly into and land at the base. Registration for the fly-in ends Friday.

Pilots can use their personal aircraft for the fly-in.

The base will open its runway to participating pilots from 7:15-8 a.m. on Oct. 15. Pilots will depart fro the base from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

According to a press release and flyer from CAFB, the fly-in will also feature activities for pilots, including briefings from military pilots and the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as tours of the Radar Approach Control and simulator flights.

There's no fee to register for the event.

In an issued statement, Capt. Regan Tillman said the base is looking forward to welcoming local pilots.

"Columbus Air Force Base is excited to host the civil fly in on Oct. 15," Tillman said. "Already we have over 40 applicants signed up for this event. Every pilot knows clear communication is vital to safe flying operation, and this fly-in allows us to open a dialogue and increase understanding between military and community aviators."

Andy Owens, a local pilot who lives in New Hope, flew into Columbus Air Force Base during the last fly-in in 2012. Owens flew his Piper J-3 Cub -- a light single-propeller plane -- in for the event. He said he remembers flying in with five local pilots flying planes such as a T-6 Texan and a P-51 Mustang.

Owens said J-3s were once used as training aircraft before pilots moved on to flying P-51s. He said seeing his Cub, which has been in his family for decades, together with a P-51 -- flown by a pilot from Reform, Alabama -- was special.

He also noted that it's very rare to have the opportunity to land at an air force base as a civilian pilot.

"It's quite an awesome experience landing on a two-mile runway," he said. "You just don't get that opportunity very often."

In his statement, Tillman said the event represents an opportunity not only for the base to strengthen its community ties, but for local pilots to learn more about military flight.

"We encourage anyone who is interested in learning about the air force aviation to attend," he said.

Pilots can register by emailing


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