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Aviators Take to the Skies to Travel Route 66
Historic Trail Fliers will travel from New Mexico to California again this fall
By Barbara A. Schmitz
July 26, 2018 - Forget about driving on historic Route 66, one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. A group of aviators plan to fly it, and are looking for more pilots to join them.
Historic Trail Flyers is an informal group of aviation and history enthusiasts who enjoy the history of our country from the air, said Jerri Bronson, of Prineville, Oregon, who is organizing this year’s trip with her husband, Bob, EAA 1062569. Mostly VFR pilots, the group does an annual trip that takes them over some of the most scenic and historic parts of the U.S. and Canada.
Wearing Historic Trail Flyers T-shirts at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, group members are promoting their 2018 trip, which will be September 22 to October 1 and covers Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Victorville, California.
Jerri said about 30 people have already signed up for the trip, which is limited to 45 participants. The Bronsons said the trip is a great way for a pilot to get cross-country experience, and a chance to mingle with pilots. Plus, some of the pilots bring their guitars, like EAA Chapter 227 member Mike Dudley, EAA 356797, of Gilbertville, Iowa.
Bob said Historic Trail Flyers started in 1989 with the idea to fly the Oregon Trail for the 1993 trail sesquicentennial. A smaller group organized a “dry run” to see if it was even feasible.
It wasn’t just feasible — it was also fun. Ten years ago, the trip became an annual event. The group has flown the Louis and Clark Trail, the Old Spanish Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, the Chisholm Trail used in the post-Civil War era to drive cattle, and even the Whoop-Up Trail used to run whiskey from Fort Benton, Montana, to Canada’s Northwest Territories.
The trip isn’t just about flying over historic trails or highways. It’s about seeing the history there, too. This year’s trip includes stops at the New Mexico Airway Heritage Museum, a tour of an undisturbed section of Route 66 not open to the public, the Petrified Forest National Park, and even an optional balloon ride. Plus, there are overnight stays planned at hotels with historical significance, like the Wigwam Motel with its teepee rooms.
“It’s okay if you can’t come for all of it,” Jerri said. The Bronsons got involved in the group in 2005, and have gone on 10 trips.
Mike has gone on eight trips since joining the group. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “You really get to see a lot of postcard scenes, and think ‘we were there.’”