COVENTRY – The thrills at the Newport State Airport this weekend were unbelievable as Lakeview Aviation held its fourth annual air show. The show included stunt flying, airplane displays, airplane rides, a Mustang display and a bounce house for kids. Hundreds of people showed up Saturday and Sunday to enjoy the daring displays.
“Everybody has a thing for planes,” said Dan Gauvin, owner of Lakeview Aviation. Part of the purpose for the show is to grow interest in aviation. “This is a state airport. People think it’s for the rich but it’s not; it’s the taxpayer’s airport.”
Dave Windmiller, one the weekend’s stunt pilots, was part of the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Team from 2000-2002. He is well known for his stunts and flew in the World Aerobatic Championship in Muret, France. Windmiller, 48, has been doing stunt flying since he was 16.
“Regular and straight level flying gets quite boring after a while,” said Windmiller, who lives in Long Island. “It’s kind of just sitting there with autopilot waiting to get where you’re going.”
Windmiller participates in three to four shows a year.
Daniel Marcotte of Bakersfield had his Ultimate 10-200 Biplane at the show. The plane, he said, is homemade and sports a 360 cubic inch engine. He bought the plane, repaired damage from a crash and started flying it in the air show circuit in 2010 and flies in 16 shows a year. Marcotte flies in shows across the Northeast and Canada and in the Sun and Fun Air Show in Lakeland, FL.
“I like displaying the airplane for people and talking to the aviation community,” Marcotte said. As for stunt flying, Marcotte said, “It’s a real challenging sport. It takes a lot of dedication and it is fun to continue to master an art.”
The attraction to make the stunts look like death-defying feats, but have them well rehearsed and practiced, Marcotte said. "Our goal is to make the ordinary look extraordinary,” Marcotte said. “It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of practice and physical training throughout the week.”
Jim Thompson, state aviation operations manager for the State of Vermont, attended the show for recreational purposes. Air shows, he said, are a great way to get the public to airports. Thompson hopes the youth of today will get interested in aviation. “There are an awful lot of wonderful programs out there for youth aviation,” said Thompson. “We need to do a better job promoting it and I think we’ll get more kids involved.”
Recreational flying is no more expensive than taking a boat on the lake for a day or owning a motorcycle, said Thompson. He said it costs $75 to $90 an hour to run plane, including fuel.
Bon Lafayette, 13, of Plainfield, went for his first plane ride ever at Saturday’s show. “It was so amazing,” said Lafayette, who face was glowing as he walked away from the plane. “I could see the landscape, ponds and sandpits everywhere. You couldn’t ask for more.” Lafayette said he wished the flight would have lasted forever.
“It was really cool,” added Brent Thompson, 25, of East Calais. “You don’t know how many mountain ranges there in Vermont until you see it from up there.” Thompson got the chance to try his hand at flying for a couple of minutes.
Mikayla Bryan, 18, of East Calais, can’t wait to fly again. She likes flying in smaller planes more than larger ones.