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Wings, Wheels & Keels: Showing how people have traveled through the decades

Hummel Airfield at Topping was a hub of activity last Saturday as the 19th Annual Wings, Wheels & Keels festival brought together a wide variety of classic and exotic vehicles from air, land and sea. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

People love their vehicles. No where was that more evident than at the 19th Annual Wings, Wheels & Keels (WWK) show last Saturday at Hummel Airfield in Topping.

Attendance was estimated at 4,200. There were 192 cars or trucks entered, and more than 80 aircraft flew in, including a pair of World War II training planes.

The “Keels” section of the show had some remarkable boats. Zach Antonik “stopped in his tracks” when he heard the shrill steam whistles blow on Paul Carey’s steam-powered launch. Carey pulled the whistle cords at preciously noon to mark the time.

Carey had commissioned the boat, which was built by a firm in Bealton, Va. He explained the various dials that the engineer must watch to keep the massive boiler working efficiently. The huge bronze propeller spins at a leisurely 40 rpm.

In the air
With his first ride in a stunt plane, Keith Brittle was hooked on aerobatics, doing loops, spins and rolls. He’s had six aerobatic planes, but he is mellowing out with his latest aircraft, a light sport plane model “Rans S7S” that he and Jim Miller built from a kit. “I like turning nothing into something,” he said.

It took them less than 6 months, working on it every day, to assemble thousands of parts into a flying machine. It’s powered by a 100-horsepower Rotax engine that propels it to a 100 mph cruising speed, while it sips just 4.5 gallons of fuel per hour.

This is Brittle’s 11th plane, and he lands and takes off on his private grass airstrip at his home in Charles City County, and keeps it in a converted horse barn.

Memorial dedication
As part of WWK, a memorial was dedicated to the late Dr. David Nichols of White Stone, who for more than 30 years flew his plane or helicopter weekly from Hummel Airfield to Tangier Island to provide medical care as the island’s only doctor. “Being able to have the Dr. Nichols memorial dedication at Wings, Wheels, & Keels was an honor to the spirit of the show,” said Barnhardt. “He was quite the man and he enjoyed coming to the show for many years.”

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 10.01.2014

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