Last weekend's 14th annual Sho-Me Chutes Fly-In at the Baugh Flight Park east of Carthage was one of the largest ever, but Ernie and Alice Baugh are planning for an even bigger Fly-In next year.
Near perfect flying weather on Friday and Saturday for the powered parachutes, meaning near calm winds and clear skies, meant dozens of the colorful machines could dot the sky.
The event has also raised more than $2,900 for Camp Quality, a camp that serves children suffering from cancer, as of Tuesday, and that number could reach $5,000 this year after the counting is done.
“We cannot thank the pilots of the different planes enough for what they did this year,” Ernie Baugh said. “So many of these pilots have never missed a fly in. They've been continuing to support us and we've been able to support a great cause like Camp Quality. It was a great event.”
And while the powered parachutes commanded the skies around sunrise and sunset, a variety of planes and other flying machines entertained in the middle of the day.
Ernie Baugh, who has been flying powered parachutes since 1997, said the 2013 event featured 41 powered parachutes and more than a dozen other aircraft, including a hot air balloon, a powered hang glider, a gyrocopter and a number of airplanes.
“I'd estimate we had about 100 kids for our candy drop,” Ernie Baugh said. “That's one of our most popular events.”
At one point around sunset on Saturday, 17 powered parachutes were in the air at the same time, dotting the skies over eastern Jasper County with their colorful canopies.
Baugh said the Kingsley Brothers, with Plane Cents Aviation in Miller, brought several aircraft to the show and flew crop duster demonstrations.
Baugh said one element that made the show safer was having professional air traffic controllers in the Baugh Flight Park tower.
Three controllers, Phil Driver, Chad Smith and Mike Furman, kept traffic around the grass strip running smoothly, and Baugh said the pilots appreciated the help.
Jay Tevis, a representative from the FAA, was on hand to answer questions from pilots about the rules and regulations governing the relatively new light sport aviation category of flying, which includes small homebuilt aircraft and powered parachutes among other kinds of flying machines.
Baugh also thanked Mercy Ambulance, Carthage, for stationing an ambulance at the event.
As always, the success of a fly in like this is dependent on almost perfect weather, something the event didn't have in 2012 when it rained through the weekend.
Depending on the weather, Baugh said he's planning for an even bigger fly in for the 15th year of the event in 2014.
“We want to open it up to any type of aircraft,” Ernie Baugh said. “It's getting better every year thanks to the public's support. We want to grow, but we don't want to lose track of what we put this on for. It's a blessing to be able to afford one of these aircraft and a blessing to be able to support a worthy cause like Camp Quality. We just want to get bigger and better next year.”