Total Eclipse Fly-In for All Ultralights
The name Total Eclipse is somewhat unusual for a fly-in, but it seems befitting of an up-and-coming gathering of all types of ultralights (powered and otherwise) garnering attention at the Carroll County-Tolson Airport outside Carrollton, Ohio. "I wanted to get as many ultralights in the air as possible to 'totally eclipse the sun'," says fly-in organizer Mark Mathias about naming the fly-in, which he founded in '93. Mathias, who operates a chemical packaging company as his regular profession, says he started the Total Eclipse Fly-In because his family of non-flyers always picked non-aviation events to vacation at. He decided if he couldn't go to the big fly-ins to see the ultralights, he would start his own fly-in and get the ultralights to come to him.
Eight years later, the fly-in is still growing and attracting notice from the area media, with more than 100 ultralights expected to attend the 2001 version on the weekend of August 18 and 19. Mathias says he personally spends about $500 promoting the event each year, inviting ultralight manufacturers and distributors to attend and display their ultralights, as well as arranging for ultralight instructors to be on hand to offer introductory flight lessons to the general public and spectators. He also maintains and uses an extensive mailing list of ultralight pilots, sending out a flyer each year to potential attendees (call him to get on the list). Mathias does not charge ultralight companies for display space at the fly-in, a benefit that attracts ultralight manufacturers such as CGS Hawk manufacturer Chuck Slusarczyk of CGS Aviation in Broadview Heights, near Cleveland, Ohio.
"Chuck runs my ultralight contests," Mathias says, going on to explain that his fly-in does not offer any serious ultralight competition (the competition is not sanctioned by an ultralight organization, and offers no National Ranking Points to competitors), but rather Mathias prefers fun contests for pilots and spectators. Slusarczyk, an ultralight pioneer and one of ultralighting's most entertaining characters, also brings his guitar and harmonica, to sing and entertain when he's not spinning ultralight tales of the early days.
All types of ultralights ("all small flying vehicles" the flyer says) are welcome to attend and should be represented at the Total Eclipse Fly-In -- fixed-wing ultralights, trikes, powered parachutes, gyroplanes, hang gliders and helicopters -- according to the organizer. "The fly-in is open to the public," Mathias notes. "Everyone is welcome." Ultralight flight instructors will be available to give introductory flight lessons in ultralights, powered parachutes and gyroplanes, according to Mathias. This year, Mathias appears to be making a special effort to get more trikes to attend the fly-in.
Carroll County--Tolson Airport features parallel asphalt and grass runways (4,300-foot asphalt and 1,600-foot grass), an on-site fixed base operator (but no on-site ultralight dealer), an on-site aviation parts store, and an on-site restaurant. The restaurant, with their famous pies, attracts people from all over the region, according to Mathias. Accommodations include on-site camping, a motel 2 miles away, and a bed and breakfast nearby.
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