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Airport Family Fun Day is Saturday
June 11, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
Since 1998, members of the local Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 608 have shared their love of flight at the annual Airport Family Fun Day.
This year’s event is Saturday, June 13 at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport and runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We’re hoping to have a number of pilots from around the region fly in to join us,” said EAA member Gary Hashley. “Breakfast and lunch will be available for the public and there will also be a number of food vendors throughout the day. It’s just a great time to spend with the family and have a fun day of it.”

One of the highlights is the “Young Eagles” rides. As an international organization, EAA has provided almost two million first flights to kids from age 7 to 17. The local chapter has given more than 2,100 first airplane rides to get young people interested in flying.

Parental consent is required and interested persons should arrive early, as the number of flights is limited to the time of the event.

EAA member Sherry Fisher will also be there as her persona “Rosie the Riveter.” She represents the millions of American homemakers who entered the workforce to keep the country running during World War II when the men were in Europe and the Pacific.
“During World War II, this country couldn’t have run itself without the women,” she said. “We did everything from building ships, tanks, ordinance and airplanes. We even packed parachutes.”

She added the women also planted Victory Gardens, collected scrap and about anything that could be used in the war effort.

“My parents are from that generation,” she said. “My father-in-law drove a tank in Europe under General Patton. I feel very honored to represent Rosie and all the women of that era. And they played a big part in how far women have come today.”
Also during the day, numerous aircraft of all types will be on display, including a KC-135 refueling plane from the Nebraska Air National Guard in Lincoln. The pilot is familiar to locals – Captain Tyler Sandberg, a Gering graduate.
“We always like to come out to western Nebraska with a plane that represents the entire state,” he said. “We not only do missions around the local area, but we also provide refueling capability to the Air Force.”

Also on display will be a piece of history. Runza Restaurants is sponsoring the display of a vintage P-51 Mustang. The World War II era plane holds a large place in military history as it helped the Allies win the air war.

The pilot and owner of the P-51 will be at the airport for the day to share about the plane’s history.

A banner plane from Colorado with also be here to haul a number of advertising banners around the area. Hashley said it’s fun to watch the plane hook up and drop the banners.

The pilots in attendance may also participate in a landing contest to determine who can land closest to a selected spot on the runway. A trophy and prizes will be awarded.

Hashley said he’ll also be there to talk about the new club Panhandle Flyers. It was started to encourage people of all ages who want to learn to fly.

Many of the pilots who park their planes at the airport will also pull their craft out for display. Other demonstrations include the Nebraska Start Patrol K-9 unit and local law enforcement, including the bomb defusing robot. The High Plains Auto Club will also have their vintage cars out on display for the event.

“The weather’s supposed to be great, so please come out and have some fun with us,” Fisher said.
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