Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pilots and plane enthusiasts fly, drive to Shumway Innernational Airport (IL05), Effingham County, Illinois

SHUMWAY− Dozens of pilots and aviation enthusiasts attended the Fly-in and Drive-in Pancake Breakfast at the Shumway “Inner”national Airport on Saturday morning to raise money for a local aircraft group.

Jack and Darlene Poff hosted the eighth breakfast fundraiser for Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 16 over the weekend at their hangar-turned-home airstrip. Darlene Poff said the fundraiser is one of two events that supports programs such as the Young Eagles flight event which allows children ages 8 to 17 to take flight with an experienced pilot.

The Poffs’ airport features a half-mile sod landing strip, a hangar and the couple’s home. Darlene Poff said her husband’s love of aviation drove them to purchase the piece of farmland in Shumway where they built the small airport.

“We built the hangar because Jack got his pilot’s license in college but had to put his aviation dreams aside when life got in the way,” Darlene Poff said. “Once the kids got older, we sold our lake house and bought this property.”

Darlene Poff added that her husband has been building a kit plane of his own, and his project is nearing completion. The couple eventually added onto the hangar, making their residence a permanent part of the airport.

Darlene Poff estimated that the couple and a group of volunteers serve around 200 people each year at the event, and 50 to 55 planes make a stop to devour pancakes, sausage and biscuits and gravy.

The breakfast has grown throughout its duration, Darlene Poff said, as pilots from Illinois, Indiana and Missouri participate each year. Darlene Poff said the breakfast is not just a joy for her and her husband and the pilots.

“I think it’s something for the community. It’s open to the public, and everyone is welcome,” Darlene Poff said.

Dale Lener of Olney and Fred Berger of Noble each flew into the airport in their Piper Warrior planes. Lener, a pilot for 17 years, said the two attend the event because of their love of aviation.

“We like to see the airplanes take off and land. It also gives us a reason to go fly. It’s fun,” Lener said.

Lener and Berger said they dreamed of flying as kids. Lener wanted to fly so badly that, when he was young, he leaped from his family’s shed with a sheet tied to his arms to act as a parachute. Berger had constructed a child’s version of a plane using cloth and wood when he was young, an idea that never actually saw air time.

Stan Bahrns of Effingham and Perry Testory of Urbana landed their Van’s-model aircrafts on the grass runway Saturday as well. Bahrns said he had been flying since 1959 while Testory said he began flying ten years after Bahrns.

Testory and Bahrns agreed that the ride into Shumway was beautiful and calm despite occasional wind gusts. Testory said he enjoys coming this event because he’s surrounding by people who love to fly.

“It’s the comradery (and) the like-thinking. If you don’t like airplanes, you’re not going to be here,” Testory said.

Dean Wetherall and Ron Stoldt of Shumway attended the breakfast with two relatives. Wetherall said he comes to the event almost every year because it’s close to his home while Stoldt said Saturday was his first time at the breakfast.


Wetherall said he enjoyed seeing the variety of planes as well as watching them land and take off. He said he had brought his grandchildren out last year, and they enjoyed it.

Charleston pilots Keith Walker, Roger Songer and Steve Laribee each journeyed to Shumway in their post-World War II Taylorcraft and Aeronca planes. Laribee said this event is special to him because there are not too many like it around.

“I personally like coming out here because there’s not very many places for us to fly to anymore. You can see that the people who wanted to fly since they were younger are here,” Laribee said.

No comments: