CRESTVIEW — The third annual Emerald Coast Aviation Fly-In took place Saturday at Bob Sikes Airport. Area residents visited open hangars to have lunch, listen to live music and see vendors. Visitors also saw planes that flew in.
Nearly 30 small passenger planes flew in for food, entertainment and a chance to win prizes.
Pilots who flew in represented a range of flight experience. Some were military members; others just developed a passion for flying.
Daniel Nowling, 39, of Harold, always wanted to fly and just recently started the process of getting his pilot's license.
"This year, I am flying in as a student and hopefully next year, I will be flying in as a private pilot," he said.
Being a pilot may be costly, but it’s an attainable goal, he said.
"The average person can afford to do this; they just don't realize it," Nowling said.
Obtaining a private pilot's license can cost nearly $6,000 for 40 to 50 hours of training, according to First Landings Aviation School.
One plane that particularly caught much of the public's attention was a personally made aircraft by Jerry Dotson. The North Okaloosa County resident built the single engine plane from blueprints and flew it to the airport.
"I started working on the plane in June of 2009," he said. " I flew it (for the first time) in June of this year."
Dotson used his own personal touches in designing the plane, which included motorcycle tires for landing gear.
Dotson must have 40 hours in the air before he can take anyone for a ride, according to Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
The event served to raise awareness of the airport, some said.
“A lot of people in Crestview don’t know that Bob Sikes (airport) is here,” Jonathan Dunn, Emerald Coast Aviation president and owner, said. “A lot of people that come to this event want to see airplanes and their kids want to see them as well.”