On the morning of Saturday, Aug. 8, the skies of Wallowa County will be buzzing with various aircraft, piloted by those hungry for pancakes. The 8th Annual Wallowa County Fly-in (wallowacountyflyin.com), located at the Joseph Airport, is hosted by club members of the Wallowa County Pilots Association (WCPA) and the Chief Joseph Flyers (CJF).

Open to the public, many activities will take place at this fly-in, which coincides with Joseph’s annual Bronze Brews and Blues Festival (bronzebluesbrews.com). A fundraising breakfast, free airplane rides to the first 30 people who register, static displays of antique aircraft, and a unique presentation about Women in Aviation will provide much family entertainment.

There is no gate fee, but breakfast will be sold from 7-10

a. m. Breakfast is priced at $10 per person; children 12 and under are free.

The proceeds of this event will support and promote all aspects of General Aviation in Wallowa County, such as the upkeep of back country airstrips, and help defray the transportation costs of the historic flying machines coming from distant Pacific Northwest locations. A raffle for a generator, a Hawaiian gift basket and two hours of flight instruction will take place at noon.

According to Bill Ables, WCPA chairman, the fly-in breakfast has grown in popularity. “The first breakfast was held in 2007 at the Enterprise airport, where we served 12 meals. Last year we served 313 people. We’re expecting a larger crowd this year.”

As time allows, an AT-6 “Texan” will give WWII and Korean veterans a spin in the air without charge. Owner Jim Shotwell will take others up starting at a $375 fee for 30 minutes.

Spectators will thrill at the arrival of a 1928 Boeing Model 40. According to WCPA pilot Bill Hall, “Getting this plane to our fly-in is a real coup as it is much in demand for other events. (It) was Boeing’s first airliner.”

Additional classic aircraft on display will be a P-51 Mustang, a Vultee BT-13, a DC-3, a Stearman bi-plane and a Chinese Trainer Nanchang CJ6. A Gyrocopter will perform its special capabilities.

New this year is the Women in Aviation presentation and display in one of the hangars. Prepared by Steven Locke, an associate professor at the University of Wyoming with family ties to Wallowa County, photos and narratives will depict the stories of women aviators throughout flying history.

Aviatresses such as Beryl Markham and Bessie Coleman exhibited courage in not only breaking earthly bonds by entering blue skies overhead, but challenged the culture of the past which said, “Only men can fly.”

Joseph Airport’s very first manager, Bessie Halliday, will be the featured woman pilot. Bessie was a flight instructor during WWII and taught men to pilot in preparation for deployment to the European and Pacific theaters. After the war, she came to Wallowa County and established Halliday Flying Service. Here she continued to teach flying and was much respected by her student pilots, as recorded in the Chieftain in the late 1940s.

Girls and women who have dreamed of flying, or are just curious will find the “Women in Aviation” presentation inspiring. The goal, according to Steven Locke, is “to influence female participants to consider aviation careers as aircraft mechanics and traffic controllers, as well as pilots.”

Karin Rodland, chairman of the Columbia River Chapter of the 99’s in Tri-Cities, will represent this international club of women pilots (of which Amelia Earhart was a member decades ago). After Steven’s presentation at the hangar, Karin will give free rides to girls who express a sincere interest in flying.

Sharing an outdoor community breakfast at Joseph Airport with the Wallowa Mountains in the background, watching notable aircraft land and park for the day-long display, experimenting with a flight simulator and having the opportunity to be airborne over upper Wallowa Valley are only a few of the attractions available at the fly-in. The Wallowa County Pilots Association and Chief Joseph Flyers hope to encourage many to join in the aviation adventures of Wallowa County.

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