Photo by Patrick Mulvihill
NEW HANGAR at WAAAM served as taxi zone for future pilots. During the Sept. 10-11 Fly-In, visitors got a peek inside WAAAM’s expansion, which will house antique gliders and an interpretive display about the 1920s Gorge airmail route. Planes parked on the main green in front of the new hangar, and everywhere else organizers could squeeze them in during the largest and best-attended Fly-In yet.
As of Thursday, September 15, 2016
“The place was packed,” and so were all available fields and potential parking areas for planes and cars, for last weekend’s Fly-In.
Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum and the Port of Hood River’s Ken Jernstedt Airfield hosted the annual aviation event, which drew a record number of planes and people: 550 visiting craft, and an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 people, said to WAAAM Director Judy Newman.
“Our best one yet,” Newman said. “We have become well-known as a place where people will see great planes. The museum was elbow and elbow inside, I’d never seen that many people. You couldn’t hardly walk around,” as pilots and visitors took advantage of perfect weather and flocked to the event.
“The planes were lined up tail to tail,” Newman said. “We filled up but it worked out beautifully.”
The pilot coming the farthest hailed from Indiana, and he won the annual prize for the distinction: a case of oil donated by Carson Oil.
“We figure by the time they fly that far they’ll need an oil change,” she said.
One indication of its popularity came Friday night, at the pilots’ spaghetti dinner, where about 400 people were served, far more than in past years.
During the winter, WAAAM graded and smoothed an area on the east side of Air Museum Road to make room for about 200 planes, normally used for overflow parking.
Planes were also parked along the front of Tucker Road, directly across from Twin Peaks Restaurant.
Newman said the size of the event may mean Fly-In has reached its peak.
“It may be we will get no bigger than this,” she said. “And that would be okay. We like what we are: a friendly, fun fly-in.” Next year’s event, with a full and completed hangar, will be the same point on the calendar: the weekend after Labor Day.