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Cars, planes--and one flying car--at Pacific Coast Dream Machines show

Tue, 13 Jul 2010 00:00:00 -0700

There's a pretty good chance that most car guys are also airplane guys, and vice versa. The organizers of Pacific Coast Dream Machines have known this for the last 20 years. So each April they gather a fine collection of both at the airport at Half Moon Bay, Calif., and open the gates.

This year in late April was no exception. Hot rods, lead sleds, race cars, cool bikes and everything from a hovercraft to a jet-propelled flame thrower shared tarmac space with an impressive squadron of World War II fighters, some postwar trainers, a couple of prewar biplanes, one pristine DC-3 and sundry other airplanes, helicopters and one of only a few of Molt Taylor's original Aerocars.

Some of the planes even offered rides to paying customers. For $60 you could hang on for dear life in an open-cockpit 1926 Travel Air biplane, seated just aft of a 760-cubic-inch seven-cylinder Wright Whirlwind radial engine. Or for $200 you could fly back seat in a 1943 SNJ Navy trainer with a 1,340-cid Pratt & Whitney radial nine making 600 hp. And there were rides in a pristine twin-engine 1943 Beechcraft 18 originally built to train Army Air Corps pilots in navigation. That one roared regularly down the runway, giving riders a hefty dose of positive and negative Gs.

If you didn't have the cash for a flight you could climb through a B-25 bomber named Heavenly Body for free and swing the .50-caliber guns around menacingly. Or just gawk at an impressive collection of World War II fighters, including several P-51 Mustangs and a Russian Yak.

The cars were pretty cool, too. There was a wide spectrum, mostly hot rods and/or rat rods, but also lakes racers, bulging-fendered '50s sedans, a couple of brass-era buggies and even a lineup of MGs. The stationary antique farm engines were a crowd favorite, too.

There are about 4 million or so hot rod shows on any given weekend in California. To stand out you really have to come up with something unique. The volunteer army at Half Moon Bay has done it every year. An estimated 15,000 attendees, us among them, agreed.

Look for next year's show at about the same time, late April. Bring sunscreen, sturdy shoes and the $200 you'll need to fly in that SNJ. Yee haw!

Watch video from the 2010 Pacific Coast Dream Machines event:

By Mark Vaughn