Despite weather, EAA fly-in breakfast draws supporters

NILES – After an evening of heavy storms through the area, the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 865 Fly-in/Drive-in Breakfast came in for a landing Sunday morning.

Beginning at 8 a.m. chapter members fired up the rotating pancake griddle to keep the stacks coming to hungry attendees. The event raised funds for the chapter’s operating expenses.

While the severe storms hindered the fly-in attendance, an hour into the breakfast the club’s hangar on the east end of the Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport in Niles, long tables were filled with supporters. In the past, 50 to 70 pilots will land their planes at the airport for the event. This year, by 9 a.m., there were only two or three that had come in for the landing.

People of all ages came to the airport on Sunday morning to take a closer look at small aircraft, like smaller Cessnas and Team Mini-MAX builds. Team Mini-MAX supplies plans and kits for light aircraft builds for single-engine planes. A retired U.S. Army field ambulance was also on display.

Doug Dehring, of Niles, has been coming to the breakfasts since he was seven years old.
Dehring is not a part of the chapter, but grew up coming to the event with his father. His favorite part of the event is the new people he meets.

“People from different parts of the state [come in],” Dehring said. “People come from all over the country, really.”

While there were fewer pilots flying their aircraft in from other locations on Sunday, other pilots had their hangars open to display their aircraft and invite attendees to take a look and ask questions.

“The weather had a lot to do with the planes this time around,” Dehring said.

The chapter’s president, Thomas Landgrebe, buttered the rotating pancake griddle in between batches of the breakfast treat.

A former chapter member built the griddle about seven or eight years ago.

“It makes my job a lot easier,” Landgrebe said.

He said the chapter had decided not to cancel its fly-in/drive-in breakfast even with the storms that came through the area on Saturday evening.

“I said, ‘we’ll show up and see what we can do,’” Landgrebe said. “With COVID, we have a lot of people who are wanting to get out and be involved in something.”

He said the chapter, and many attendees, look forward to the fundraising breakfast each year.

Landgrebe himself is just hours short of obtaining his pilot license.

“This is something people don’t think about with the EAA,” he said. “It’s a great place to get involved with pilots who are also trainers. This is the best way and least expensive way to obtain a pilot license.”

Landgrebe has three airplanes in various stages of construction that he hopes to fly.

More information about the chapter and future events can be found on the EAA Chapter 865, Inc. Facebook page and at Chapters.EAA.org/EAA865.

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