Aircraft group to host final Sandusky airport fly-in Aug. 11Written by Don Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Sandusky’s privately owned airport closes and its owner moves its operations to Port Clinton, that will also close the doors on a 17-year tradition of pancakes and planes for the public.
Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 50, which has hosted a fly-in and pancake breakfast for the public every year since 1996, will have its 17th and last such event at the airport Aug. 11.
And though the chapter plans to find a new home for its morning of hot wings and pancakes, chapter president Ben Gleason said Griffing Airport, on U.S. 6 just east of Sandusky within sight of Cedar Point, has offered one of the best fly-in venues he knows.
The airport’s location on one of the main tourist roads into town has meant a lot of people dropping in as they drove by, he said. And, though fly-ins are typically organized for pilots and their pals to get together with their planes, that drive-by business has accounted for a lot of Chapter 50’s traffic, he said.
Additionally, Griffing Airport’s layout — two runways crossing with a large grass parking ramp in one corner — allowed visitors to walk among the parked planes while other planes took off and landed just a short distance away.
But the Griffing family, which has owned the airport since the 1930s, is selling the land, citing expenses and decreased paying traffic. Griffing Flying Services, which bought Island Airlines and now serves as the air link to the Lake Erie islands, will operate out of Port Clinton’s Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport, also known as Carl Keller Field, off Ohio 53 on the way to Catawba Island. That airport and the neighboring Liberty Aviation Museum are visible from State Route 2.
Moving the fly-in to Port Clinton along with the Griffing family operation won’t do, Gleason said; a neighbor EAA chapter calls Port Clinton’s airport home — and “Tin Goose” Chapter 1247’s fly-in is always the week after Chapter 50’s.
“We don’t want to interfere with another chapter,” Gleason said.
What the chapter does want to do, he said, is give the Griffing family a big send-off and thank-you by having one of the biggest fly-ins the chapter has put on. The chapter’s website, (www.eaa50.org), says chapter members hope to serve up more than 1,000 breakfasts at $6 each.
The final fly-in is 8 a.m.-noon Aug. 11. Just showing up and looking at the planes is free (not counting what you spend on gas to drive or fly there), but for the $6 you get eggs, sausage, beverage and all the pancakes you can eat. The money goes toward scholarships the chapter sponsors for area students pursuing aviation as a career.
Even without the pancake breakfast, the chapter — like most of EAA’s chapters across the United States — sponsors smaller fly-ins, mostly for members and pilot friends, at smaller airstrips in the Sandusky area.
Nor is there any shortage of fly-ins for the public in the Toledo area:
- As mentioned, EAA Chapter 1247 (www.tingoose.org) has its annual fly-in and pancake breakfast 8 a.m.-noon Aug. 18 at Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport. Another fly-in and flea market is set for Sept. 28 at Erie-Ottawa and one more in October. Additionally, the chapter is hosting Kalamazoo Air Zoo’s Ford TriMotor, which will sell rides at Erie-Ottawa July 4-10, and rides in a World War II B-17 bomber, next on Aug. 21. If your taste in planes runs small, there is a radio-control “warbirds” show Aug. 24-25. And for history buffs, an exhibit honoring the Tuskegee Airmen “Red Tail” fighter squadron of World War II will be Aug. 29-Sept. 1.
- EAA Chapter 582 (www.eaa582.org) has it’s “Super Breakfast” for pilots and public 8:30-11 a.m. the second Saturday of the month, May-October, except June, when it has its two-day “Plane Fun” fly-in for pilots and public.