What pilots (and others) do for summertime fun!
A summertime Fly In is a wonderful thing
We’ve been to two of them in the past month. The Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association are two of the largest advocacy groups working to keep general aviation healthy and vibrant, protecting your* freedom to fly. This year AOPA held five regional fly ins and we attended the one in Minneapolis at Blane-Anoka Airport. There were safety seminars, good food, lectures, updates on the rules, sales, free ice cream, friends both new and old, and lots and lots of airplanes on static display and in the air.
AOPA Fly In at Blane-Anoka Airport (KONA) our EAA chapter Fly In at Mauston-New Lisbon Airport (82C)
Pilots tend to be welcoming, generous people and they love any excuse to fly. At Anoka we chatted with Julie Clark who started her amazing aviation career as a flight attendant, then progressed to Northwest Airlines A320 captain, and is now one of the world’s top airshow performers in her T-34 Mentor powered by a 285-hp, 24-karat gold plated, horizontally-opposed six cylinder engine. At our own EAA chapter fly-in at the Mauston-New Lisbon-Union Airport we met a German couple seeking the real America on a cross-country car tour. There was no common language except that of flight but it just worked! (Pilots are naturally pretty good at talking with their hands and waving their arms.) A Chicago-area couple stopped to fuel their home-built Marquardt MA-5 Charger bi-plane on Friday night and found themselves guests at our chapter party, borrowed the loaner car** to find a local hotel, and returned the next day for our fly-in. They planned a quick breakfast and departure but spent the entire day!
What’s the attraction?
Besides all the aviation talk, lots of non-pilots come too. What do these children and adults of all ages find so appealing? You don’t have to be a pilot to appreciate that airplanes are compellingly beautiful, strong enough to lift you into the sky, and as delicate as an eggshell. Some people come for the lovely handmade quilt and afghan, or the bent wood rockers and bookcase on raffle. A big country breakfast and the hearty brats or Italian beef lunch served up by the local Lions Club draws many. Prizes are given for the finest vintage cars and they come by the dozens. There’s a huge display of farm equipment–old-fashioned and high-tech. I saw a monster tank-transport truck that dwarfed everything around it. The field of community cows are new each year to support local businesses. There are helicopter and airplane rides. Don’t forget chocolate root beer floats–deliciously unusual! All the hangar doors are open and questions are encouraged. There are games for children. Live the Dream flight training based at Mauston-New Lisbon Airport (82C) is here to answer your questions. What more perfect way to spend a summer day could you have?
Your freedom to fly
*There are 5,200 general aviation airports, heliports, seaplane bases, and other landing facilities in the United States, representing four of every five landings. Canada has 1,000 general aviation airports and Europe has 4,200. AOPA estimates that general aviation provides greater than one percent of the US GDP and accounts for 1.3 million jobs. It’s a privilege to be able to fly and a great pleasure. You never know what you might find at a fly in and you too might discover a passion for flight. Regardless, it’s your freedom to fly as much as it is your neighborhood pilot’s.
**Many general aviation airports have a free loaner car, keys available on request. We’ve found them to be reliable, older model cars in clean and safe condition. We’ve borrowed many of them all across America and only once did we have a problem: a weak battery that died while we were at dinner in western Nebraska. The restaurant owner sent a young employee to help us on our way; it took a lot to persuade him to accept a twenty dollar bill as thanks. The generally accepted practice is no charge for the car but to return it to the airport with a full tank, ready for the next person who needs it, a part of a simpler, more innocent world of trust and decency.
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