Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lions Fly-in: Le Sueur Airport praised for its continuing benefit to community

That dream of flying lured Alycia Favolise of Le Sueur to the cockpit of a 1943 Boeing Stearman, one of over 30 planes which landed at the Le Sueur Airport for the fourth annual Lions Fly-In and breakfast. 

Ray Johnson of Buffalo, who restored this 1943 Boeing Stearman biplane, exits the cockpit after landing Sunday at the Le Sueur Airport as part of the Lions Fly-In.

Bruce Hoegger of Hanover co-piloted the 1943 Boeing Stearman into the Le Sueur Airport for Sunday's Lions Fly-In.

The fourth annual Lions Fly-In at the Le Sueur Airport was treated with light winds and bright, blue skies. And a 1943 Boeing Stearman biplane.

As community residents enjoyed the pancake breakfast, along with the sights and sounds of the smaller aircraft coming and going at the Le Sueur Airport, the bright orange double-winged Stearman caught the eyes of young and old.

Pilots Ray Johnson, of Buffalo, and Bruce Hoegger, of Hanover, brought the World War II relic into the airport, hitting the tarmac from the west, into the easterly wind. And as the two taxied near the row of aircraft assembled for the fly-in, youngster Alycia Favolise was among those running to the aircraft.

As Johnson and Hoegger climbed out of the cockpit, she hopped up on the wing, gazing into the cockpit, dreaming of one day flying herself.

Le Sueur Lions Club President Bill Ingersoll says the organization's fundraising event is a good way to bring the community out to the airport on the city's south side.

But for fly-in organizers Jeff Parker, of Bloomington, and Dave Skogland, of Jordan, it's about an airport which draws them and others back to Le Sueur. Both praised the quality of the small airport and its potential.

"It's in really good shape," Skogland said. "They've put a lot of dollars into it. And it's a nice community."

Skogland used to own a hangar at the Rosemount Airport before it closed. The Le Sueur Airport surfaced as the next best alternative and it's become his flying home.

It's Parker's home airport facility, as well. He likes the location just south of the Twin Cities and "it's not really busy, but busy enough." It's an "uncontrolled airport," Skogland said. There's no airport tower, as planes navigate in visually. But on Sunday, Skogland was manning the radio control if needed.

Parker and Skogland originally contacted the Le Sueur Lions Club to get a fly-in event at the local airport. While Sunday's fly-in numbers didn't rival the first year, when 100 small planes participated, both were pleased with the morning event.

"And it's an excuse to fly," smiled Parker, who said some pilots were also getting ready to head off to another fly-in at the Hector Airport. And there's usually such an event throughout the summer and fall, he added.

Former Le Sueur resident Lowell Christiansen also praised the quality of the Le Sueur Airport and Sunday's event. And while the question sometimes surfaces as to why the community of Le Sueur might even need an airport, Christiansen didn't flinch.

"The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) wants as many smaller airports as possible," he noted, and provides substantial funding to keep them in good shape.

Christiansen also said there's an economic benefit to having a small airport available to the community, noting pilots often spend good money in town. At a recent Brainerd fly-in, Christiansen said he spent about $2,000 over the weekend.

Skogland also said the work of Scott Churchill and his maintenance crew is a great benefit to pilots and their planes should any repairs be necessary. Churchill owns and operates Scott's Helicopter Service at the Le Sueur Airport, but his mechanics also are capable of doing plane maintenance, as well, stressed Skogland.

The fly-in and breakfast, said Skogland, is a great opportunity for Le Sueur residents to be reminded of a community asset. And for youngsters to dream.

Story and photo gallery:

No comments: