SEBASTIAN – The LoPrestis were all smiles during their monthly First Saturday Breakfast despite strong rains that kept most of the 320-plus crowd inside the family’s new hangar. The rain also kept aerobatic pilot “Corkey” Fornof from being able to perform his airshow.
The breakfast, which typically serves as a fund-raiser for a local charity, served a dual purpose Saturday as the LoPresti family and city officials gathered to cut the ribbon in celebration of the new hangar’s completion.
“I hope we’ll have more hangars like this popping up like mushrooms,” Sebastian Mayor Richard Gillmor said. The city is working on ways to bolster and grow the local economy and officials have said the airport would be integral to that success.
About four years ago the LoPrestis began to look for a place to set up their aviation business.
They scouted more than 70 sites across the country and settled on Sebastian, not because it scored the best in the company’s decision-making matrix, but because of the relationship LoPresti Aviation fostered with the City of Sebastian, Curt LoPresti told the crowd.
“My bones like it here,” LoPresti said, explaining that his family comes from the “Old Country” – an island between Sicily and Italy, a fishing village.
“I really like Sebastian,” he also said. “It’s a great place.”
Along with celebrating the hangar’s completion and raising money for the Roseland Food Pantry, LoPresti Aviation asked its aerobatic pilot, J.W. “Corkey” Fornof, to speak about how he got his start flying, performing aerial tricks and later helping to direct and create memorable movie moments involving flight.
Fornof recalled a time when astronauts Pete Conrad and Neil Armstrong would visit his family home in Louisiana and fly jets. At the time, he said, he didn’t think much of it.
“My life has been great like that,” Fornof said. “I think I’m God’s entertainment,” adding that when things get slow and God is bored, He taps Fornof to see what He can get him to do.
Fornof got a break in Hollywood in the late 1960s with Sports Illustrated’s “Wide World of Sports.”
From there, he developed a reputation for his knowledge and flight experience that big-name directors approached him to help craft aerial scenes for movies.
Such films include James Bond movies “Octopussy” and “License to Kill,” and others such as “Face/Off” and “Six Days Seven Nights.”
In Face/Off, Fornof was responsible for flying the large airplane – a Gulfstream in the film – into a steel hangar door, early on in the movie.
Traveling nearly 70 mph, the plane took out the hangar door and stopped just as the special effects team calculated.
“You’d never do this crazy stuff if not for the movies,” Fornof said.
By the end of his discussion, the rain had cleared up but not enough for Fornof to demonstrate the LoPresti Fury jet. Within a few minutes of the announcement, torrential rain again fell on the airport.
LoPresti Aviation hosts a monthly breakfast on the first Saturday. The breakfast is open to the public and costs $5, which is donated to that month’s selected charity. The monthly event is held at LoPresti Aviation, located at 210 Airport Dr. East, in Sebastian.