Fly In attracts crowd to raise funds for fire department, local EAA chapter
By HANNAH HOLLIDAY
DOWAGAIC — The smell of pancakes and sausage filled the air as the Dowagiac Fire Department hosted the Fly In pancake breakfast at the Dowagiac Municipal airport for the first year. Funds raised from the breakfast will be split to support both the fire department and the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Assocation.
Beyond the breakfast, airplanes filled the grounds of the airport, as spectators viewed an array of different colored airplanes. The airport has hosted the Fly In for several decades and attracted pilots from southwest Michigan and Indiana to its landing strip. Among the line of planes stood Bob Danielson next to his “Super Cub” hangar. Danielson, of Decatur, said he has been attending the Fly In event for the past 20 years.
“Small airports really need all the support they can get,” Danielson said. “You get a guy like Oscar [Azevedo] in here that really has a passion for it, and that helps all this happen.”
Danielson has been flying for more than 50 years, after learning in the 1960s. He spent time in the airline industry flying airliners. Now that he is retired, he teaches people to fly in his own plane.
“For me it was something that looked cool that I could do,” Danielson said of his initial interest in flying. “It just kind of happened, and I was fortunate to know people when I was young who had airplanes.”
Funds raised by the EEA local chapter support their local community aviation programs, including the Young Eagles Flights — a national level program, that allows children access to free airplane rides and exposure to the world of aviation, said Azevedo, the Dowagiac Muniple Airport Manger.
“Without the Chapter’s organization and event insurance, this event would be impossible,” Azevedo said.
Danielson said the event also serves as an opportunity to get young people interested in airplanes.
“Hopefully that will plant the seed,” Danielson said.