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Published: Friday, 6/13/2003

Aviation fest has lots of pull

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Airplanes aren't just for flying and admiring this weekend at the 12th annual Plane Fun aviation festival at Metcalf Field.

They're also for pulling - as in tug-of-war. Man vs. Machine.

In an event that would surely puzzle aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, teams of five to seven people will see how far, how fast they can drag a 36,000-pound Cessna Citation X.

“It's the largest business jet that's made,” says John McAvoy, festival chairman and a director of its sponsor, local Chapter 582 of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The Pull-A-Plane contest is a fund-raiser for Bittersweet Farms, a nonprofit organization in Whitehouse that serves adults with autism. Teams must raise $500 to enter.

“This has never been done around here, to our knowledge,” Dan Hoppe, director of marketing and development for Bittersweet Farms, says of the plane-pull. “We're hoping to make it an annual event.”

The winning team will get a prize of up to $1,000 - the amount depending on how many teams compete, McAvoy says. Other prizes will be awarded for people's choice, best theme, and most spirited.

“They won't actually pull on the plane itself,” he says. Although not all the technical details have been worked out, teams probably will tug on a rope that's attached to a small tow tractor, which will be connected to the plane via a tow bar.

McAvoy says the contest will start at 10 a.m. tomorrow, with teams spaced 20 to 30 minutes apart. Depending on the number of teams, the competition could go into Sunday.

Meanwhile, lots of other events will take place, including the popular EAA Young Eagles Program. Part of the national organization's effort to introduce young people to aviation, the program provides free airplane rides to children ages 8 to 17. To participate, children must have a parent or guardian with them.

Other festival highlights will include displays of various kinds of aircraft, plus biplane and helicopter rides at prices in the range of $35 to $50, McAvoy says.

A flight simulator also is scheduled, along with a display of vintage tractors. The Northwest Ohio Street Machiners will display vintage autos and street rods.

The 12th annual Plane Fun aviation festival is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday at Metcalf Field, State Rt. 795 and Lemoyne Road, Millbury. Admission is $4 for adults and free for children under 8. Information: 419-666-0503 or at www.eaa582.org. For information about the Pull-A-Plane contest, call 419-381-9901, ext. 215, or visit www.bittersweetfarms.org.



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