A British Spitfire from World War II buzzed the field, dropping as low as 30 feet from the runway at full throttle before banking to fly away again.
IF YOU GO
What: Maricopa Fly-in & Car Show
When: March 17, 8 a.m.
Where: Millar Airport, 53510 W. McDavid Road
How much: Free
Info: 602-571-1059, firstname.lastname@example.org
“That sent a shiver down my spine. It was like watching a World War II movie,” said Mike Kerr, describing a previous fly-in at Millar Airport in Maricopa.
The Maricopa Fly-In & Spring Break Car Show Extravaganza has turned into an annual event on retired Col. Chuck Millar’s property on West McDavid Road. Last year included a 16-piece big band and a death-defying aerialist.
The fly-in is March 17 starting at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast.
Kerr, who runs the car show, and Millar, who runs the fly-in, never know what pilots are going to show up. Millar said he gets calls and emails from pilots, but that is never an indicator of who will drop in. Because it is a short runway, not every aircraft can land. That does not keep them away.
“What’s funny is a lot of people hear about it, but they don’t come in to be part of it,” Kerr said. “But they’ll fly over.”
Drivers entering the car/truck/motorcycle show pay a fee for a chance at a special trophy, but there is no general admission charge.
The fly-in is a nonprofit event. Each year, Millar and Kerr select a charity as a beneficiary. This year, that is the Shriners.
“We’ll have the band back,” Millar said. “I’ve actually thought to do a concert out here one night. It’s one of those things where you have an activity, but you don’t know who’s going to show up. So, you’re really apprehensive. It’s like having a party at your house and you have all these things set up and no one shows.”
That has never been a problem for the Fly-In & Car Show. Last year, the event drew 65 airplanes. Kerr said there were 45 entries in the car show. They expected around 550 spectators and ended up with more than 600.
Kerr came to Millar about five years ago with the idea of hosting a car show at his private airfield, where Millar had started a display of historic military items and vehicles. Millar’s hangars house the Vietnam Aviation Veterans of Arizona Museum.
“When he realized he had fun, he started showing everybody everything,” Kerr said. “There’s an experimental aircraft association that once a month does a fly-in someplace, so he coincided that with the car show.”
From there, the Fly-In & Car Show has taken off.
“I’ve done car shows for years. You go to car shows, everybody sets their lawn chairs up behind the car and they sit there in the sun and then wait ‘til judging,” Kerr said. “Here, Millar gets the halftrack out and provides rides in the desert. There’s stuff for the kids to do. He set a dumpster out here last year, and people would fly over and try to throw toilet paper in the dumpster.”
Having grown up in California surrounded by citrus and fruit trees, Millar planted a grove as a windbreak, and it included oranges, ruby red grapefruit, lemon, peaches, plums, nectarines and apples.
“People are more than welcome to come out and pick fruit,” Millar said. “I’ll even supply the baskets.”
Millar Airport is west of Maricopa near the intersection of Hidden Valley Road and McDavid Road. Activities will be available most of the day.
“We do it ‘cause it’s fun,” Kerr said. “You know you can’t buy fun.”
This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.