EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 1635 hosted its first Fly-In on Saturday at the A. Paul Vance Regional Airport in Fredericktown.
The free event invited the public to come out and enjoy gyroplane and powered paraglider demos, food and displays.
"We did it to introduce the town and the general area to aviation and various forms of it," EAA Chapter 1635 President Larry Gregory said. "The corporate aircraft didn't make it in but we had several types of aviation here including a wing building demonstration, power paraglyders, an aircraft that came in to have lunch in Fredericktown, and of course the gyroplanes."
Gregory said the chapter wanted to have the fly-in to see if not only planes would come in but the public would come out and enjoy the airport as well.
"I think, given that it has been cloudy and our main events weren't been able to get in because of the weather, I think we had a nice crowd come through," Gregory said. "I believe we had well over 100 people in and out just in the morning."
Ghee Ghee’s Kitchen and Lalo’s Mexican Grill had food trucks at the event offering lunch options for attendees, volunteers and pilots.
The event was fun for all ages with aerial demonstrations, food trucks, airplanes flying in and the displays.
When asked if the chapter will have more events like this in the future, Gregory said it will depend on community feedback and support from the pilot community.
"I've had good participation from chapter members so I think maybe they will support it," Gregory said. "We will just see how we progress and what the community says. We are interested in community feedback. If the community says 'hey we like it, we want you to do it again.' If we get feedback from them that means a lot to us."
Gregory said he hopes those in attendance took away that aviation is multi-faceted. He said there are so many different areas in aviation that there is a little something for everyone to explore and learn about.
"Aviation is not just flying, it is so much more," Gregory said. "Engineering, if they are math and science inclined. Air traffic control, safety stuff you can do, marketing, as far as corporate air craft if you are into marketing, that type of commercial flight. Of course all the professionals associated with commercial airlines, that is aviation. Military of course, Air Evac team, medical. There is a lot of things you can do."
Gregory said the need for pilots and technicians is growing. He said, according to statistics, between 2020 and 2039 the world needs 763,000 new pilots and for every pilot there are multiple technicians required as well.
EAA Chapter 1635 will now begin gearing up for its Young Eagles Rally scheduled for Oct. 9 at the A. Paul Vance Regional Airport. This event is geared toward youth and offers free airplane rides to those from 8 to 17 years of age.
"We have 26 registered at this point and we have four or five that were at the Fly-In that were interested in it," Gregory said. "So we have 30 registered. We topped it at 80 but we would have to recruit some pilots from another chapter in St. Louis if we had that many. We would really like to see about 50 kids."
Gregory said the Young Eagles Rally held in Perryville in May had 55 kids and he would like to see a similar turnout in Fredericktown.
"Many of our riders are second-time riders," Gregory said. "They have ridden with us before so we must be doing something right. This will be the third year we have flown youth and it has proven to be an exciting day for the youth, their families and the pilots."
If you have a youth aged 8-17 that would like to participate in the Young Eagles Rally Oct. 9 you can register at youngeaglesday.org.
Gregory said EAA Chapter 1635 covers the Farmington, Fredericktown and Perryville region and is only 2 and a half years old.
"Just having this event I've already had two or three people come up to me and say 'hey I want to join the chapter,'" Gregory said. "I think for a young chapter we are doing pretty well and the number of events we are hosting is about all we can handle at this point."
Gregory said he would like to thank all the volunteers, pilots, and anyone involved in the Fly-In.
"The support we got from the community, the city has been great," Gregory said. "They accommodated us and brought picnic tables out. The two food vendors from Fredericktown were very supportive.
"We just want to thank the community. It has just been great and we would just like to keep building on it."
EAA Chapter 1635 meets the third Thursday of every month with rotating locations between Farmington, Fredericktown and Perryville. For more information about future events, meetings and membership find them on Facebook at EAA Chapter 1635 or call the A. Paul Vance Regional Airport and ask for Larry Gregory.
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at email@example.com