50th Annual Cracker Fly-In returns to Gainesville

By Joy Holmes Multimedia Journalist
Posted 2:10PM on Saturday 6th July 2019 ( 3 months ago )

Back for the 50th time, the Annual Cracker Fly-In took over runway 29 at the Lee Gilmer Airport in Gainesville on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The Cracker Fly-In is organized by the Experimental Aircraft Association, an organization of aviation enthusiasts. The EAA chapter 611 based out of Gainesville’s airport mans the event each year. 

More than 150 aircrafts lined the way for spectators to get an up close and personal view of the different aircrafts featured at the event. People from all over the southeast brought aircrafts such as warbirds, historic, homebuilt and helicopters to name a few. 

But the Cracker Fly-In offers a little bit of everything, Shane Crider, the event coordinator, said. Not only can people catch a peek inside aircrafts and potentially pay-to-ride, but vendors, food trucks, car clubs and entertainment for the kids are also on site.

Rumor has circulated that this could be the final year of the Cracker Fly-In, but according to Crider, the event may just see some changes as a way to adapt to the aging pilot population. The average age of EAA chapter 611 is around 70 years old, he said.

“It’s brutal on them and it’s brutal on us setting this up,” Crider said. “But several guys and the coordinators talked, and they said maybe this is something we could move to spring or fall when there is a little bit nicer weather and it is nicer for everyone else. So hopefully this won’t be the last one, but it might be the last one we have in July.”  

So, while the event may see some changes in the future, it is still an event that brings together Gainesville and the surrounding areas, alongside the aviation community who makes the Cracker Fly-In possible. 

Lance Liggin is a pilot who has flown and displayed his personal planes at the event for more than 20 years. 

“It’s special, because it’s a true opportunity to open up to the community,” Liggin said. “We love talking about airplanes and showing people what they’re all about.”

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