Thursday June 21 to 24, 2012...
Hosted by the Binghamton Aeros, the IMAA Rally of the Giants was held at the Chenego bridge airport… a full sized, two runway grass area that was the only flat spot in the rolling hills of northern New York.
Slated for the 21st to the 24th of June, 2012, a significant Canadian contingency headed south for the 400km trip and all arrived safely. The rally was a large, friendly and non-competitive event that saw over 150 registered pilots on the Saturday with well over 200 aircraft presented. We quickly met and made new friends over the four days and we all had plenty to talk about during the day's activities and later over BBQ dinners and a few cold drinks.
I'm not sure if the weather gods were smiling upon us or attempting to kill us as temperatures at the field for the first two days were in the high 30's to early 40's and the humidity extremely high. The value of our first-up tents was immediately realized and we were all thankful for any opportunity to duck into an RV for a few minutes of air conditioning when needed.
Sunburn and heatstroke were the order of the day and this contributed to the low number of flights during Thursday and Friday. As we arrived on Wednesday, we had premium spots for the trailers and pop-ups which served as our base camp and provided a very short walk to the flightline. Trailers continued to fill the parking field day by day and there was an impressive array of aircraft filling the pits. As a photographer, I was fortunate to see almost every aircraft fly and endeavored to get at least one good shot of each. The human element was important as well to gauge the size of the aircraft and you will see plenty of pictures for that reason. The sky was incredible on Saturday and provided perhaps the best backdrop I have ever shot.
Notable events include a very large C-47 which was finished only a week prior to the event and although it didn't fly, Ed and our crew spent plenty of time with the builder/owners tuning the engines and offering advice for the taxi tests.
There was also a pair of 50% Christen Eagle aerobatic biplanes that were impressively large and well detailed. One of them flew late on Saturday which I shot with the last of my camera batteries.
There were lots of extremely well detailed and large WWI aircraft that flew during the event along with a gaggle that flew during the lunchtime shows on Saturday. WWII was well presented as well with several P-47s, P-51's, a P-40 and a couple of Spitfires. The remainder of the aircraft were civilian types with many Cubs, Cessnas and the like.
A very nicely detailed and Flite-metaled Byron P-47 showed up on Saturday and was immediately studied and appreciated by all heavy metal warbird fans, myself included.
Another aircraft that stood out was a large Marchetti F260 jet trainer which looked amazing and flew the same. Towards the end of the day a stunning Cessna showed up at the far end of the flightline and drew a crowd of onlookers. Once they thinned out, I took a look and snapped a couple of pictures of it and spoke to the owner.
Even up close the detail was excellent down to a full cockpit, rivets, aerials and corrugated flying surfaces. At around $15,000 (US) to finish, it was an impressive aeroplane but unfortunately it didn't fly so no air shots.
There were several incidents including the spectacular loss of Scott's Extra (not the new one) but overall crashes were few and far between for the number of aircraft that flew and a tribute to the safety of both pilots and event organizers.
Many thanks to Paulo who provided a place to sleep and transport to the event and to the others in our crew including Scott, Ed, Mike, Doug, Steph & Josee.