Local event sends 55 kids airborne

One of several planes in town for the annual Fly-in and Car Show is pictured above. This year’s event was the biggest so far, said one official. (GAZETTE PHOTO/Rana Jones)

KEMMERER — Pilot Rene Felker took a moment to pose for a picture between flights in front of his plane named ‘Curious George’ at the Kemmerer airport on Saturday, Sept. 16, for the third annual Fly-in and Car Show. Felker lives in Ogden, Utah, and has volunteered to fly his plane at the event for the past three years.

Felker said he used to be the Young Eagles coordinator through the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) but has handed that role over and is now enjoying flying kids in his RV-10 Van’s Aircraft plane that he built in his garage. He has been flying since 1978 and, along with the other pilots, was able to offer flight experiences to 55 kids from the area. 

JUB Aviation Project Manager Kim Silvester was at the event and said, “This is a great way to promote aviation to youth as well as bring the community together to support the airport. It is a great opportunity for the kids in partnership with EAA.”

Silvester is based out of Salt Lake City but said she works with three airports in Wyoming and each one is unique. JUB Project Engineer Taylor Kofoed, based out of Evanston, was helping at the event, and said she loves working with small airports.

She said, “The city does a lot of the work putting this on and we are here to support them in what they need, but they do a lot of the leg work.”

South Lincoln Training Events Center and Kemmerer Recreation Center Director Trista Gordon said the event was a success.

“We flew 55 kids, there were 14 cars in the car show, and the Rotary Club pancake breakfast sold out,” she said. “There was even a family that came all the way from Pinedale so their child could fly.”

Gordon was involved in the startup of the Kemmerer fly-in show three years ago. The Kemmerer airport is managed by the city but advised by a joint powers board between the city and county.

“We had a meeting in the spring of 2021 and someone on the joint powers board mentioned there was a group out of Ogden that flies kids,” she said.

The Young Eagles program, launched in 1992, has dedicated 30 years to giving youth ages 8–17 their first free ride in an airplane. Gordon said they decided to combine the fly-in with the car show to include kids that were too young to fly.

“We decided to combine the fly-in with the car show and bring in the firetruck from the first responders. The young kids love to touch the truck,” she said.

Gordon found some wooden glider planes for the younger kids and recruited local Girl Scouts to help decorate them.

“It’s an event that brings the community together,” she said. “The first responders are there along with search and rescue as well as the Rotary Club and the airport board.”

She said the event is growing.

“This year was a great show with the biggest turnout we have had,” Gordon said. “It is getting bigger and better every year.”

She said they are grateful to the pilots who graciously volunteer their time and planes. Each pilot did around six flights that day and the city paid for the fuel, which was funded through an FAA grant.

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