IF YOU GO
What: Port of Camas-Washougal’s sixth annual Wheels & Wings vintage car, truck and aircraft show
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15
Where: Grove Field, 632 N.E. 267th Ave., Camas
Cost: Free for visitors, $10 to register car/truck in advance or $15 day of show
More info: Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 360-335-3676 or visit portcw.com
Weather closures: This event may be canceled due to rain. Visit camaspostrecord.com for updates.
Kent Mehrer is standing inside one of his two hangars adjacent to the Grove Field airport in Camas, explaining what makes the vintage Wilga 80 aircraft in front of him so special.
“A standard private airplane needs 1,000 to 1,500 feet to land,” Mehrer says before nodding toward the Wilga owned by his friend, Mike Kanooth, of Washougal, that lives inside Mehrer’s hangar. “But the Wilga only needs 500 feet.”
The short takeoff and landing ability made the Polish plane, produced between 1962 and 2006, popular with sports and civil aviation operators. Because it could be flown with the doors open, the plane often was used by parachuting enthusiasts. It also could be converted into a medevac air ambulance, Mehrer explains, by removing the back two seats and putting a patient on a stretcher board into the rear of the plane.
Flying a Wilga is a very different experience for most aviators, Mehrer says, adding that with landing gear on its tail, “landing (the Wilga) can be challenging.”
The son of the late Skeets Mehrer — a pilot known for restoring what was likely the largest private collection of World War II era Stearman planes — as well as a former United States Air Force officer and flight instructor, Mehrer knows a thing or two about vintage aircraft.
This week, he’s preparing for the Port of Camas-Washougal’s sixth annual Wheels and Wings Community Appreciation Day, which will feature vintage planes and cars at Grove Field from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15.
Kanooth’s rare Wilga will be there, as well as at least one of the vintage Stearmans Mehrer inherited from his dad’s collection of 15 vintage ’40s military trainers.
At last year’s Wheels and Wings show, Mehrer took home a Sponsor’s Choice award from Apiary-Key King Security for Cloud Dancer, a white 1940s open-cockpit Stearman with canary yellow wings Skeets Mehrer restored in 2001 and dedicated to the history of Marine Corps Aviation.
Cloud Dancer will likely be back for this year’s show, and Mehrer might even show the gorgeous, cherry red “Lady Anna” — restored by Stearman Northwest for Kent’s dad, Skeets, and named for his grandmother, Anna Mehrer — he co-owns with Kanooth and Chris Lehner, a Camas pilot.
Because the show is held at Grove Field, the planes are always a point of interest, but the show also will feature a variety of classic cars. The Portland chapter of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America usually has a presence at the Camas airfield show, and Mehrer might even bring one or two specimens from his four-wheel, road-bound collection, which includes a 1966 Chevy Corvette 427, a 1924 Ford Model T and a vintage Cadillac with only 40,000 miles on it.
“It’s just a really fun show,” Mehrer says of the annual Wheels and Wings event, which will feature planes and cars on the actual airfield this year — meaning anyone flying into the show will need to arrive a day early and plan to leave after the airfield reopens — as well as free hot dogs, soda, awards for crowd favorites and live music by The Fabulous Farelanes, a band that describes itself as a “surf-n-rock-n-motown” sound that will “transport you back in time to those hot summer nights cruising the strip, top down, with Wolfman Jack blaring over the speakers.”
Organizers expect to have about 150 cars, trucks, planes and even a helicopter on display at the event. The Camas-Washougal Aviation Association will be assisting with the event and accepting donations for the group’s scholarship fund.
The event is free for community members, and costs $10 to pre-register a classic car or truck, or $15 to register the same day. Contact the port’s community relations specialist, Sadie Hayes, at email@example.com or 360-335-3676 for more information.
As this paper was going to print, Port of Camas-Washougal staff said they may decide to cancel the event due to inclement weather. Visit camaspostrecord.com for updates on the Wheels & Wings show, and for cancellation/rescheduling information.