SUMNER – Most folks don’t even know it’s there, but pilots of 45 small airplanes and one helicopter found the Two Fools Airport high atop Sumner Hill for its biggest fly-in ever.

Visitors came from as far away as New Mexico and Tennessee, parking their motor homes beside the runway.

The annual event celebrated the birthday of Cedric Abbott of Buckfield, who turned 61 on Monday and is one of the men for which the airport is named. The fly-in is held on the Saturday closest to Oct. 16.

Fifteen years ago, the aircraft mechanic/pilot and his friend A.J. Holt of Turner, also a pilot, decided it would be good to have a place where pilots could bring their mechanic work to them rather than Abbott and Holt doing the traveling.

“Cedric and A.J. named the airport themselves, reasoning that ‘only a fool would build an airport today (in 1989),'” Cedric’s daughter, Michelle Bourget of Hebron said Monday night.

The men carved the strip out of the woods on the farm, which is owned by Cedric’s brother, Stuart, pushing stumps with an antique bulldozer they rescued from a dump. The bulldozer still stands guard, ready to be called back into action.

According to Holt, who runs an automotive business in Norway, pilots are a close-knit fraternity who enjoy getting together, so the idea of holding a fly-in each year with contests, food and fun really took off 11 years ago.

On Saturday, an armada took off to make a round of nearby airports where each crew picked up a playing card for a poker hand. Extra points were awarded to pilots who spotted towns with parades or football games in progress.

Meanwhile, other pilots took their turn at the spot-landing and flour-bombing contests. Gusty winds made it extra difficult for the pilots to land on a line drawn across the landing strip for the landing contest. However, Tom O’Connell of Turner touched his wheels down right on the mark. Unfortunately, he had not registered for the contest, and he decided it wasn’t fair to take the prize, scorekeeper Sonja Abbott, Cedric’s daughter, said.

The same winds made the flour bomb contest tricky, too. Each plane had two small sacks full of flour to use as bombs. While every crew seemed to have a plan for hitting the target, most were not even near the mark, and a few made the observers duck for cover.

While some of the airplanes Saturday were relatively new, quite a few were antiques, including Holt’s 1938 Piper Cub. Joe Smith of Livermore flew in with his 1942 Steerman bi-wing. The plane was used to train military pilots during WWII. It spent the next 20 years as a crop duster before being restored to its original condition. Smith has owned it for the past six years.

Numerous home-built planes were flown in. Sonny Stevens of Turner came in his Island Shuttle, a small amphibian he spent two years rebuilding.

Peter Frost of West Paris took five years to build his experimental aircraft. The 500-pound plane uses a fuel efficient Volkswagen engine. He built the wood frame with ordinary hand and home shop tools and covered the wings with synthetic fabric, using his wife’s electric iron to shrink it for a tight fit.

The winners of the contests were:

Poker Run – Mike Bell of Turner, Sean Abbott of Buckfield, Dave Bullock of Hartford.

Spot Landing – Dan Thomas of Roxbury, Sean Abbott, Dave Bullock.

Flour-bomb drop – Chris Merrill of Waterford, Mike Bell, and Dave and Karen Godin of Levant.

Staff Editor Mary Delamater contributed to this report.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.