Kemmerer airport hosts first annual Fly-in & Car Show

A Young Eagle aircraft, built by one of the volunteers, was grounded due to strong winds. Despite the bad weather, 13 children still took to the skies with the help of Young Eagle volunteers.

Last Saturday, on Sept. 18, Kemmerer’s first-ever Fly-in & Car Show was held at the Kemmerer Municipal Airport. The event, which took place from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., saw multiple organizations come together for a morning replete with activities. These organizations included the City of Kemmerer, Chapter 58 of the Young Eagles, J-U-B Engineers, the Kemmerer Rotary Club, and AVFUEL. The city itself provided some volunteers and other logistical solutions, while J-U-B Engineers, based out of Salt Lake City, also volunteered a lot of time and resources, including taking the lead on the marketing and promotion of the event.

As the main attraction for the morning, the Young Eagles quickly found that their sign-ups for children to go on plane rides had hit their soft limit of 40, with a further 10 wait-listed. Young Eagles is a nationwide program created in 1992 by the US Experimental Aircraft Association, which is designed to give children an unprecedented look inside an aircraft through one of their experiential flights helmed by volunteers.

But while children (and their families) were waiting for their turn to take to the skies, others wisely made their way to the hangar-turned-diner area, with the Rotary Club offering sourdough pancakes and other breakfast items as part of a fundraiser. There was no set amount that visitors were required to donate for breakfast, but by the end of the event it was announced that they had raised $562.48. The amount raised will go to various scholarships and community initiatives that the Rotary Club offers, as well as helping to cover costs for future events.

Just outside the breakfast hangar was the car show, which had grown to a dozen different entrants. Although all were herculean efforts of restoration and maintenance, some took their hobbies to the next level, with one entrant going so far as to have intricate paintings and western-themed accompaniments (such as a model gun for the clutch, etc.). The winner was to be determined by popular vote, with Randy Johnson’s 1952 Chevy 3100 pickup placing first.

Despite the impressive number of people who had turned out so early for the events, the weather took a turn for the worse at about 9 a.m. Between the tempestuous winds and the heavy onslaught of rain, the event’s ambitious agenda was rained out, and planes were grounded due to poor visibility and weather conditions.

Some ravenous families opted to stay and partake in the Rotary Club’s breakfast before departing, but many simply left when it became clear that the weather would not abate.

Despite the short-lived nature of the morning events, City Administrator Brian Muir and Mayor Bill Thek were exceptionally pleased with how things turned out, weather aside. They also credited Dr. Regg Hagge as being the chief architect behind the planning of this event, noting that he had helped organize similar events at other airports in his lifetime.

“Overall, considering this is the first time we’ve done anything of the sort, and not having a central organization to do all the planning, I think it’s actually coming together really well…I’m happy with the results,” Thek said.

“One of the purposes of this event, is to encourage aviation among the youth, to maybe want an aviation career, or to appreciate aviation and its benefits. And we want the public to know that one of our economic assets is this airport,” Muir added.

Young Eagle Coordinator Rene Felker also spoke as to the deeper purpose behind the Young Eagles program, emphasizing the fact that everyone donates their time and resources (planes, fuel, time) to help promote the cause of aviation.

“The goal is to get as many kids as possible interested in aviation,” Felker said.

By the time the storm had arrived, the Young Eagles had taken 13 lucky children to the skies. For those still looking for their wings, they’ll have to look for another fly-in event nearby, or wait for the second annual Fly-In & Car Show, slated to occur in September 2022.

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