An estimated 1000 people flocked to what was one of the most diverse airshows in Joseph Fly-in history July 12 and 13. From fighter jets to biplanes and piper cubs, this airshow had it all. Two of the favorites proved to be the P-40 and its sister P-64, and the Pendleton National Guard’s big Chinook helicopter that served time in Afghanistan and Iraq. The line for the pancake, sausage, and eggs breakfast on Saturday was long. Breakfast-goers sometimes had to wait for more eggs to get cooked or more pancakes to be flipped. But no one seemed to mind. It was for a good cause and the Saturday morning weather was perfect.
It also seemed to be the most fun Fly-in ever. From Alpha jets to ultralights there was something for everyone. And maybe next year, the legendary DC-3 will return.
The annual gathering welcomed over 100 pilots, both local and from distant reaches in the Pacific Northwest. On Thursday Mark Peterson and his Dormier Alpha jet from Boise flew over the county in formation with Phil Fogg from Aurora piloting his Aero L-39 to announce the beginning of the Fly-in.
Friday night’s outdoor banquet, enjoyed by the public and many pilots who arrived earlier that day, was served by the Lions Club.
Mike Fleming, co-director of the Fly-in, said, “We were happy to have this cooperating experience with the Lions Club. They did a great job.”
Excitement filled the air Saturday morning as attendees enjoyed an outdoor pancake breakfast, then welcomed a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and a replica of a North American P-64. Fogg again took to the air, blasting through the air with his L-39 jet at the finale of students Malichi Roberts and Kana Oliver’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner. The talented two-some have other skills as well--Roberts designed this year’s Fly-in poster, and Oliver organized the live and silent auctions.
About noon on Saturday, a lone Air Force F-15 made a single flyover, demonstrating how far military aviation has come since the 1960’s when both the sleek Alpha and L-39 planes were designed and built.
As much activity was taking place inside the Education Hangar as well as in the air. Children were greeted at the airplane demonstration board by Susan Koehn. Student volunteers from the aviation class at Joseph Charter School led children through the education track of examining a real airplane while wearing a headset, making paper airplanes with powered propellers and piloting a flight simulator with Wallowa County scenes. A child earned a set of wings for completion of each activity, and three wings qualified a child for a free flight on Sunday.
Ronny Morrell, a senior at JCS who assisted with the flight simulator, said, “The aviation program is great. It’s not just for pilots, but about all aspects of aviation. I like encouraging younger kids to get interested.”
With hundreds of fans crowded at the security fence, the Fly-in was topped with local fliers demonstrating their precision Short Take Off and Landings (STOL) skills, much needed for back-country aviation adventures in Snake River country.
The Northeast Oregon Aviation Foundation was organized four years ago, and the Fly-in is its annual fundraiser.
Fleming said, “The Foundation is very happy with this year’s super attendance. The support of the community was above and beyond, and the flying community support was unprecedented.
“We’re especially happy with local back country pilots’ demonstrations of their skills.
“Quality volunteers did a great job. Many visiting pilots and display pilots commented in amazement that such a small community could put on such a high quality event, with so many great, historic planes.”
Hannah Unze, a Joseph mother, was thrilled with the activities.
“It gets better every year.”