Saturday, October 03, 2015

Victory pilots honor veterans with flyovers

Pilots and friends gather in Victory. From left are Eddie Dates, Lauren Dates, Jamie Young, Lee Jackson, Rusty Burtch and Toby Shields.

There is a group of airplane pilots in the town of Victory and nearby vicinity who serve the public and fellow veterans by participating in flyovers on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Over the years, the pilots and friends have included Lauren Dates, Rusty Burtch, Lee Jackson, Jay Robinson, Toby Shields, Jamie Young and Edmund Dates. They also have a formation for flying over a cemetery during burial services for local veterans. The group does over 20 of these memorial flyovers a year.

Recently, some of these men attended the Blakesburg (Iowa) Fly-In Sept. 2-7. It is billed as a “low-key affair” for those who love antique airplanes and grassroots aviation. The event is sponsored by the Antique Airplane Association and the Airpower Museum. Blakesburg is in southeastern Iowa and the airfield is a private airstrip between Ottumwa and Albia. It is chartered on the Chicago sectional as IA27. The all-grass strip is 2,350 feet long, where you can see antique or classic airplanes taking off and landing during the fly-in.

The pilots (and the website) describe the experience there as a place to tell about your flight out to Blakesburg and as time to swap flying stories. You can catch a ride in your dream plane or maybe give a ride to a fellow pilot. One can browse the treasures at the fly-in market where there are parts, instruments, engines and airframe bits. You can visit the Air Power Museum and the Library of Flight, which has old magazines and equipment manuals. You can take photos of beautiful airplane landings and watch the runway action. There are haywagon rides and you can walk the display line of aircraft as new airplanes fly in every day.

There is a rare aviation book vendor on site, and you can sign up to get air-to-air photos of your plane at sunrise and sunset. The runway cinema has movies to be watched for those who want to settle in for a couple of hours!

On the last day of this low-key Americana event, a memorial service is held for the AAA members to pay their respects for those members who have “gone home” or “gone west,” as it is described. All of our pilots landed back home safely!

Of special note coming up is the presentation of an auspicious award to Mr. George McRae, uncle of Mrs. Lauren Dates (Laurie). George will be receiving the FAA Charles Taylor Award in October for service as an Airframe Powerplant mechanic for 50 years. George, 96 years young, has actually been in this service for 72 years. Congratulations on this well-deserved award!


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