The one thing you can’t control when you plan a fly-in is the weather. The Experimental Aircraft Association chapters in Louisiana know this well after the hurricane season of 2005. Communities and airports throughout the state were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita but, as the state has recovered, so has the Louisiana EAA Fly-In Series.
“We had a couple of minor weather problems here and there last year, but looking back it was a great year,” said Series Coordinator Jim Riviere.
He noted that all 10 events were held on schedule. About 400 different people registered for at least one of the 10 events. “One participant attended nine out of 10 of our events,” he said. “I am confident that the airports hosting our events easily became the busiest airport in Louisiana on that particular day.”
The fly-in series was created in 2003 as a way to celebrate the Centennial of Flight. Similar events had been held in decades past as a means to raise the aviation awareness of the general public and increase aviation activity.
“Each event is totally autonomous,” said Riviere. “Whoever wants to do one sends in a request at the beginning of the year. The only requirement is that the event be done around lunchtime. Pancake breakfasts don’t work because if you want to be at one and have to fly across the state you have to get up mighty early.”
Some of the events feature Young Eagles flights. At others, aviation businesses and organizations such as the Civil Air Patrol and the Ninety-Nines are invited.
“And, of course, the public is invited,” said Riviere. “The whole point is to get people involved in aviation.”
Riviere noted that the comeback of aviation in a state so battered by hurricanes has been slow. “We had a lot of airports damaged and a lot of EAA members lost their airplanes,” he said. “But we’re also seeing chapters at airports that never hosted one of these events before ask to host one. That’s a positive sign and tells me we are going in the right direction.”
To entice pilots to attend the events, several sponsors donate gifts. In 2006 donations ranged from high-end items like a ride in an L-39 jet, an aircraft fuel computer and a rivet gun to shirts, caps and discount certificates.
Interested in checking out the series for yourself? The next fly-in, hosted by EAA Chapter 343, is slated for Feb. 24 at Shreveport Downtown Airport (DTN).
Other events include:
• March 24, Chapter 971, Fly-in, St. John Airport (1L0);
• March 31,Chapter 697, Air Show & Fly-in, Slidell Airport (ASD);
• April 27-28, Chapter 614, Spring Fly-in, Pineville Municipal Airport (2L0);
• May 5, Chapter 912, Fly-in, Concordia Parish (Vidalia) (0R4);
• May 12, Chapter 244, Fly-in & Poker Run, False River Regional Airport (HZR);
• Sept. 8, Chapter 836, Freedom Fly-in, Ruston Regional Airport (RSN);
• Oct. 12-13, Chapter 614, Fall Fly-in, Pineville Municipal Airport (2L0);
• Oct. 20, Chapter 513, Cajun Fly-in & Fly Market, Houma-Terrebonne Airport (HUM); and
• Oct. 27, Chapter 836, Southern Heritage Air Show & Fly-in, Tallulah/Vicksburg Regional Airport (TVR)
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