Planes, treats and automobiles

Wings & Wheels event brought classic planes and cars as well as vendors

Staff writerJuly 9, 2014 

The tarmac at the Tacoma Narrows Airport played host to vendors, sightseers, music and more. The stars of the show: Planes and cars. Rows and rows of classic cars, one-of-a-kind cars and even a tank lined up on the asphalt. Unique planes parked for visitors to walk up and see. Some took to the skies.

The fourth annual Wings & Wheels event last Sunday is part of the Tacoma Freedom Fair celebration on Fourth of July weekend.

The wings in the show came from all over. Members of the Cascade Warbirds brought airplanes that turned a few heads.

Victor Norris, 42, brought an IAR 823, a Romanian-built fighter.

“It does draw a little bit of attention, a lot of people have come up (to me) and said it’s a really interesting airplane,” Norris said.

Justin Drafts, 44, brought a rare plane. Rare for the Western world, that is. Drafts owns a training plane from China. Drafts said after the plane was retired from service, it ended up as a trophy in the backyard of a Chinese general.

“I don’t think his wife appreciated it, so he got rid of it,” Drafts said.

Drafts said back in his home state of Tennessee, growing up he never dreamed he’d move to the Northwest and own a Chinese plane, but the 1974 vintage vessel landed with Drafts about two years ago. He does all the maintenance, but even for a Boeing engineer it’s tricky—all the writing is in Chinese. He said he is helped by several fluent coworkers.

There are only 300 of its type in North America, Drafts said.

Jenna Johnson, 25, was showing off a race car that belonged to her father, John Johnson. A former racing champion, he has passed the car along to his daughter.

Already a competitive Go-Kart racer, Jenna Johnson is excited to begin racing her father’s car — and try to claim the crown.

Another family vehicle was a few tents away. Donna Smiley, of Mount Vernon, stood next to “Have gun... will travel,” a restored WWII vehicle. It’s the type of vehicle her father would have driven in Saipan during the war.

“This is the way it would have looked on the beaches,” Smiley said.

It took Smiley and her husband, Dale, two-and-a-half years to restore the truck.

“We start from the bottom and work up,” she said.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155 Twitter: @Gateway_Karen

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