By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A community event at the Havre City- County Airport on Saturday promises fun for flight enthusiasts - both young and old. Called the Fly-In Breakfast and Big Kids' Toy Show, the event includes a pancake feed, door prizes, flight demonstrations, aircraft and car displays, free rides for first-time fliers, and flour-bombing contests.
The event is sponsored by the North Central Hangar of the Montana Pilots Association, which has members in Hill, Blaine, Liberty and Chouteau counties. Local pilots will have their aircraft on display, and if weather permits, pilots from other "hangars" of the MPA will fly in to join the fun.
"Basically it's an opportunity for local flyers to get together and have a few pancakes for breakfast. Pilots from our area will be there, and depending on the weather, pilots from other parts of the state will be flying in throughout the morning," said Chinook pilot Eric Rasmussen, who helped organize Saturday's fly-in.
The turnout is largely contingent on the weather.
"We could have as many as 50 airplanes or as few as 10 or 12, depending on the weather," said North Central MPA Hangar member Rodney Reitan.
Last year the event included about 40 aircraft and had an attendance of about 400 people, said local pilot Charlie Inman.
Rare, antique and homebuilt aircraft will be on display, as will other types of vehicles, including hot rods, motorcycles, old tractors and antique engines. Some of the aircraft scheduled to be on display include powered parachutes, homebuilt planes, a Pitts racer, and a 1940s-era Piper J-3 Cub.
In addition to a 1962 Cessna 172 and a 1941 Porterfield Collegiate, Inman also plans to display several of his famous Stickney stationary engines, including the 20-horsepower model. Inman, who farms orthwest of Havre, recovered the Stickney from the Milk River in the spring of 2000, after it had been submerged for nearly 50 years.
The machine has been completely overhauled and restored to its original condition. It is one of three known restored 20-horsepower Stickneys left in existence, Inman said.
In addition to the displays, Saturday's fly-in also includes free plane rides for first-time flyers. The rides are sponsored by the Great Falls chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association as part of a national program called Young Eagles.
"They want to give as many kids their first airplane ride as they can," Inman said.
Once the flight is complete, EAA members will print certificates for the young passengers as proof of their first flight.
The Saddle Butte R/C Club also plans to attend, and may perform a flight demonstration with their radio-controlled aircraft.
"The R/C club is coming up, and hopefully they'll give a demonstration. Those are always fun to watch," Rasmussen said.
Two other events planned for Saturday are a flour-bombing contest and a pinpoint landing contest. During the flour bombing contest, pilots are given two "flour bombs," which they then attempt to drop into a 55-gallon barrel while flying over the airport. Pilots must keep their craft above 200 feet.
The winner will receive a diecast model of an antique pickup truck.
After the bombing run, the pilots will perform spot landings, in which they attempt to touch down as close as possible to a spot marked on the runway. The winner of that competition will be awarded with a diecast model of a World War II fighter plane.
Pilots must pay $5 to participate in the contests, and the money, along with the proceeds from the pancake breakfast, will be used to provide scholarships for rookie pilots, Inman said.
The scholarships are part of the Jim Stevens Memorial Fund. Stevens was a Chinook pilot who was killed in a gyrocopter crash last year.
For the past several years, the Fly-In Breakfast and Big Kids' Toy Show has been held at the airport in Big Sandy. It has been an annual tradition for decades, Reitan said.
"It's kind of a community thing. It's not just for the flyers, it's to call attention to the airport and the facilities that are available there," he said.
Breakfast on Saturday kicks off at 7 a.m. and will be served through 11 a.m. The cost is $5. Those who purchase breakfast will be given a ticket for a drawing to win a 72-piece tool kit from NAPA Auto Parts.
A total of 17 merchants donated prizes for the fly-in, Reitan said.
The schedule of events for the Fly-In Breakfast and Big Kids' Toy Show is subject to change. Some events might not be held if the weather is bad.
"Tentatively we're still on, but we're watching the weather pretty close," Rasmussen said.