Monday, January 23, 2017

Fog lifts, spirits soar at Northwest Missouri Regional Airport (KEVU) fly-in

Cold, foggy weather early on limited attendance and kept airplanes on the ground during the first part of Saturday’s chili luncheon and fly-in at city-owned Northwest Missouri Regional Airport west of Maryville.

However, daring men — and women — in their flying machines were soon winging their way to Maryville as the sun came out and spirits soared.

About 15 members of the Hawk Road Flyers, along with as many guests, gathered in the airport terminal’s meeting space to chow down on chili and other home-cooked fare while sharing their love of aviation with each other and a number of flight-fancying youngsters who attended the event with their parents.

The fly-in was organized by the local aviation club to celebrate completion of the airport’s reconstructed 4,600-foot runway, a project that kept the field closed for several months.

In addition to a new landing and takeoff surface, the $3.4 million rebuild included a repaved taxiway, a runway lighting upgrade, and other improvements.

“We’re extremely happy with what’s been happening at the airport, to say the least,” said Hawk Road Flyers member Mike Rogers, who noted that other recent upgrades, such as a new fuel island and online access to data recorded by the airport’s automated weather station, have significantly raised the facility’s profile within the regional aviation community.

And while the weather didn’t exactly cooperate at first, clearing skies heralded the flash of wings and the roar of propeller-driven craft, which began gliding in for landings shortly after noon, filling the flight line with planes from across the four-state area.

In addition to Maryville, pilots participating in the event soared in from Craig; Big Lake; Riley and Manhattan, Kansas; Tecumseh, Nebraska; and Clarinda, Iowa.

Fly-in highlights included prizes for pilots in various categories.

The longest flight and biggest plane awards went respectively to Lyle Richards of Riley and Merlin Barr of Clarinda, who arrived in style behind the controls of his Piper Comanche 180.

But the distinction that had several pilots drooling was handed to Maryville resident Bradley Rankin and his vintage 1941 Porterfield, a monoplane manufactured in Kansas City and used largely as a training craft during the 1930s and ’40s.

Rogers said the fly-in was organized in an effort by both the club and the city to let more people know just what the airport has to offer. The awareness campaign will continue this week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the new runway set for 11:30 a.m. Friday.

Affiliated with the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Hawk Road Flyers group usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the airport terminal. All meetings are free and open to anyone with an interest in aviation.

Other events regularly hosted by the club include its annual September fly-in and Young Eagle days for children and teens.

Young Eagle events consist of a brief “ground school” for participating youngsters and complimentary flights in small aircraft between the airport and Mozingo Lake. 

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