Saturday, April 18, 2009

Which is more extraordinary, the EXTRA 300 aircraft or the classic silver automobile in the foreground? Both are special and rarefied in their own world. Today was another blue-sky day of light winds and tolerable Florida sunshine…the best time to visit. The annual Islands Fest is held in Tampa in April and features fun activities for families including food and children’s rides and games. And the spectacular setting of the sparkling waters of Hillsborough Bay. But “big kids” could enjoy toys of a different sort. The MG Club brought out 100 British cars of every make and vintage including Triumphs, Aston Martin, Sunbeam Tigers, Spitfires, Jaguars, Jensens and MINIs (including a British mail wagon that saw service in London). Mixed in with the cars were planes including a US Navy biplane trainer and several older aircraft. The day’s winner for speed and maneuverability was this new Extra 300 manufactured by Flugzeugproduktions-und Vertriebs GmbH in Hünxe, Germany. Regarded as one of the world’s premiere aerobatic, sport and professional planes, it won the 2007 UK Advanced and Unlimited Nationals. After seeing it perform and climb straight up at the end of the Peter O. Knight runway, I found that it is the only unlimited-category aerobatic aircraft approved to plus/minus 10G’s. Not with me in it though!! It must really excite the pilots who want high performance, speed and maneuverability. Me? I’ll stick with the beauty in the near foreground. Now here’s a means of transportation I can drive and enjoy. It’s a 1948 Healy Westland. Like new. It’s the first of the cars Donald Healey produced under his name and has Scottish leather, an aluminum body, a 104hp in-line four and a glistening finish. With a top speed of 93mph, I’ll take the Healey for a spin, thank you.

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