By Rob Stapleton
The seventh annual Talkeetna Fly-in was a huge success under sunny skies and an airport full of activity.
Held at the Talkeetna State Airport May 19-21, the event is one of three key Alaska aviation events held in May and one of two held the same weekend. The Talkeetna Fly-in followed the Valdez Fly-In, which followed the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering.
“All in all, this is the best fly-in that we’ve had yet,” said Sarah Russell of Above Alaska Aviation, one of the fly-in organizers. “Everyone here is having a good time.”
Events held as part of the fly-in offered the winners great prizes donated by sponsors.
Flying events included a Poker Run, Slow/Fast Competition, Aerial Scavenger Hunt, and a Treasure Hunt. A silent auction was held to benefit the Talkeetna Build-A-Plane program, while there was a Balsa Flying Contest and a Unicycle Race for non-flyers and children.The big winners of the weekend were Vince Ferenczy, who won a pair of 31-inch Alaskan Bushwheels in a raffle, and Tom Hudzinski, who walked away from a spectacular crash in his SQ2 during the Slow/Fast final heat on Sunday.
Hudzinski also won the Slow Speed Contest with a speed of 17 mph and his SQ2 was also voted the Most Alaskan aircraft.
Drew Haag Above Alaska Aviation estimated that about 150 aircraft flew in. Pilots, family and friends camped out under the wings of aircraft that started arriving on Friday night.
The event recently changed its name from the Hudson Memorial Fly-In to the Talkeetna Fly-In to recognize other notable aviators from the tiny community of just 875 people on the Susitna River. The Fly-In motto is now: “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Future.”
Local aviators formed a missing man formation with bush planes that flew over the event to honor its pioneers.
Sunday started out with a Sourdough Pancake feed hosted and cooked by the Talkeetna Roadhouse. This also was a fundraiser for the Talkeetna Build-A-Plane program.
A must be present to win Award Ceremony was held at 2 p.m. after a Takeoff/Land Demonstration Sunday.
- Poker High Hand: Chris Jung;
- Poker Run Low Hand: Jon Bush;
- Takeoff/Landing Demo: Audrey Cole in J-3 Cub;
- Aerial Scavenger Hunt: First: Caleb Newville, second Rod Hanson, third Josh Eckl;
- Slow Speed Competition: Tom Hudzinski;
- Fast Speed: Robert Kelly;
- Hangar Queen: Shaun Milke with a 1940s Taylorcraft; and
- Best of Show: Rod Hanson’s 1940s Taylorcraft