EAA at Your Local Airport

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Fast Cars and Chapter Stars

By David Leiting Jr., President of Chapter 1342, EAA Lifetime 579157

June 2016 - Many EAA members are familiar with the annual pilgrimage to Oshkosh, but for race fans, that trek is made to Speedway, Indiana, for the Indianapolis 500.

Being quite the Indy car fan myself, I make the trip each Memorial Day weekend. This year, I decided to add an aviation twist to my visit to Indy. I reached out to Brian Crull, president of EAA Chapter 67 (Noblesville, Indiana) and Judy Birchler with Chapter 1121 (Greenfield, Indiana) to schedule chapter visits since joining the EAA chapter office this May. Joining me on my visits were members of my Chapter 1342 (Grand Forks, North Dakota): Kreg Anderson, VP and CFI; Alex Craychee, member, CFI, and A&P; Tina Druskins, Young Eagles coordinator and CFII; and Travis Michaels, member and CFI.

Chapter 67 is located on beautiful Noblesville Airport, a quaint grass strip located about 20 nm north of downtown Indianapolis. The airport is home to 24 aircraft, as well as Chapter 67’s headquarters. The HQ is a small, white building just north of the runway. This building serves as the chapter’s meeting location, event HQ, and general hangout hub! There’s a front porch overlooking the strip, which was occupied by onlookers while Larry Jacobi was giving rides in his 1941 Stearman PT-17.

Specifically, there was a young man by the name of Malachi, who took a Young Eagles ride with the chapter. Since that ride, Malachi, who is just 12 years old, can be found volunteering at chapter events with this mother and hanging out at the headquarters. This June, Malachi will finally get to attend the Air Academy in Oshkosh, thanks to Chapter 67.

After a quick ride in Larry’s Stearman, we were off to lunch at a local hotspot, the Nickel Plate. I had to try a Hoosier classic, the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, which did not disappoint. Members of Chapter 1121 joined us for lunch, and as soon as we finished it was off to Indianapolis Regional Airport.

Chapter 1121 president Mike Grant met us at the airport, where his Cessna 140 is hangared right alongside chapter headquarters. Chapter 1121 has seen a recent growth in membership, which the members attribute to Mike’s can-do attitude. He has helped infuse the chapter with excitement by finding a hangar, free of charge, for the chapter to use as its primary meeting location. Mike also organized the recent Indy Chapter Summit, where many chapters in the Indianapolis region gathered to discuss ideas, issues, and collaboration.

Chapter 1121 gave us a grand tour of the airport, where it seemed everyone had personal golf carts. One of the more impressive aircraft on the field was Dennis Hutchinson’s Davis DA2. Dennis recently finished restoring the aircraft and was only days away from taking to the skies for the first time!

How big is your pancake breakfast?

Chapter 67 has perfected its annual pancake breakfasts, which are held once in June and once in August. The chapter breakfast sees a turnout of nearly 1,000 people and 80 airplanes!

More than just a great turnout, Chapter 67 has been able to retain local community members who attend their events. They attribute much of this success to proper promotion. The chapter has a large, permanent sign on the main road at its airport, which displays the dates and times of their events. The chapter also does a lot of promotion throughout the community via calendars, posters, word of mouth, and by sending posters to nearby airports. 

But wait, Chapter 67 isn’t alone! Chapter 304 in Jackson, Michigan, recently fed more than 800 people at its annual Memorial Day Pancake Breakfast. The masses in Jackson are fed in a very efficient manner, thanks to a large rotating pancake griddle! 

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