Drive or fly, everyone is welcome

Published 2:38 am Wednesday, September 19, 2007

By By MEGAN LAVELL / Niles Daily Star
NILES – The Niles Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will host its second annual fly-in breakfast from 7 a.m. until noon Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport.
"The point of the event is to honor veterans," said Marine veteran and Niles Chapter EAA President Bob Baird. "Last year the fly-in was basically Air Force veterans. This year it's open to all."
The breakfast will be free to all veterans and their wives. The money raised at the event will go toward the EAA's construction of five World War I biplane SE-5 replicas.
"Everybody loves World War I airplanes, anybody that's seen Snoopy and the Red Baron," said Baird. The planes should be built but unable to fly by next fall.
According to Baird, the Niles Chapter of the EAA has big plans for the future.
"We would really love to have a community-wide event that would celebrate all war veterans," he said, adding there is such an event hosted by a EAA chapter in Illinois.
A limited number of rides will be available in a 1941 Skyranger restored by area craftsman Bill Ortman. There also will be airplane rides available for donation, aircraft simulator lessons that demonstrate instrument flight navigation and low visibility instrument landings, and helicopter rides available for $25. The donations will go toward fuel costs for the flights.
Baird said about 400 people attended the event last year, and he hopes to get a similar turn-out this year.
"The fly-in attracts airplanes from all over," he said, including experimental, classic and modern.
"Many people from the community just come and have breakfast because they like to look at the planes," said Baird. "Our emphasis is to have people just come and shake hands, look at some memorabilia with the World War II veterans."
The breakfast menu will be all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage, biscuits and gravy, orange juice, coffee, and milk.
Veterans are asked to bring memorabilia and photographs with them for the fly-in. They will be served at a table with a 49-star flag, the flag used during World War II, suspended over it.