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Build It and They Will Come

By John Egan, EAA 336835, Chapters Manager

February 2018 - When EAA Chapter 1041, nicknamed the “Gettysburg Barnstormers,” was tasked with increasing its pancake-making productivity to meet customer demand, chapter member Floyd Armstrong quickly raised his hand to fabricate a rotating pancake griddle. With the motto, “If you build it, they will come,” engrained in their minds, the chapter set out to build what would become “Floyd’s Fabulous Flying Flapjack Machine.”

During our November 2017 EAA Chapter Leadership Boot Camps, hosted on location by Chapter 1041, I noticed the pancake griddle sitting in the chapter hangar. I learned that the members of Chapter 1041 host two pancake breakfast events per year as the primary fundraising opportunities to support chapter expenses, send kids to the EAA Air Academy, and offset chapter member fees. The breakfast events are advertised around Floyd’s Fabulous Flying Flapjack Machine.

Floyd, who died in 2014 at the age of 70, was instrumental in the machine’s fabrication and epitomized the spirit of the pancake breakfast.

“For several years prior to his passing, Floyd would dress in a flight suit complete with cap and goggles and make pancakes on the rotating griddle,” Chapter 1041 President Henry Hartman said. “His greatest joy was to serve hot pancakes direct from the griddle right onto the plates of hungry patrons. The smiles on kids’ faces when seeing the pancakes going around made his day, and his fellow Barnstormers still enjoy those smiles today.”

Chapter 1041 does it right when it comes to hosting events. Located in beautiful and historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the chapter advertises its pancake breakfasts at local hotels in the area. The area has a healthy tourism industry, and visitors need a hearty breakfast prior to seeing the sites so tourists and residents alike take part in the pancake events.

The chapter uses a special pancake recipe favored among its residents. Although the chapter is quite secretive when visitors ask how to make such great pancakes, in the spirit of SWIPEing ideas (the EAA chapters’ initiative to steal with integrity and pride from everywhere), Chapter 1041 is offering the recipe and the rotating griddle plans to ChapterGram readers.

Building a rotating pancake griddle is a great chapter event. Fabricating a griddle builds EAA camaraderie, increases skill sets for the chapter to take on larger projects, and provides a fun, useful tool for pancake fly-in events. The traditional pancake breakfast serves many purposes such as fundraising and providing a destination to local flyers and aviation enthusiasts, and it can be coupled with other chapter activities such as a Young Eagles rally. These events help the local community learn more about the chapter, EAA, and aviation.

If you would like a copy of the Gettysburg Barnstormers pancake recipe and a downloadable set of the rotating pancake griddle builder instructions, e-mail me at jegan@eaa.org.