With tales reminiscent of the movie "Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines," the 12th Annual Kenai Peninsula Air Fair & Fun Flight took to its wings Saturday, June 9th starting with a fly-in breakfast at the Soldotna Airport and concluding with an afternoon static air show, barbeque, and Military Appreciation Day at the Kenai Airport. "We were excited about this year's show; it just keeps growing every year and this year was absolutely the largest crowd we have ever had turn out at the Kenai Airport", said Kenai Municipal Airport manager Mary Bondurant.
According to Bondurant over 400 barbeque lunches were served and over 200 breakfasts at the Soldotna Airport by the EAA and the Young Eagles program took 14 kids up for their first flights. FAA inspector John E. Davis of Anchorage flew down his home built Vance-RV8 Experimental Aircraft that he built from a kit and tied down just in front of the mammoth C-17 Globemaster III. A spectator shouted out, "Can you land that plane inside the C-17?" "I probably could but it might be the last time it landed", replied a laughing Davis. John says he has about 2,000 hours and $50,000 wrapped up in his ship that he christened "The Chick Magnet." "An FAA ship is all about the experience of building and flying your own plane. It's a great deal of fun and I have about a 600 mile cross country range, but it's not a bush plane I fly only from airport to airport, but love it", said John who hails originally from Australia. John says that gathering with other pilots and comparing workmanship is part of the fun and encourages anyone interested to look up the Kenai EAA chapter.
The air show included a variety of aviation informational booths inside the hanger as well as the static air displays on the tarmac. 46 pilots, family and friends participated in this years Poker Run of Fun Flight, "The pilots flew into Soldotna for the EAA breakfast they took off and flew to at least five of the seven participating airports on the Peninsula or the five lakes if they were on floats and picked up a ticket from the bucket that proved you were there and then returned to the Kenai Airport where they were dealt a poker hand and a chance to win some great prizes," explained Bondurant.
Winning hands this year were dealt to 1st place - Shawn Stevens 2nd place - Dennis Merkes, 3rd place - Briana Brumley, 4th place - Mike Sellers Jr. and 5th place - Troy Christenson. Entertainment for the afternoon was provided by the popular United States Air Force Band of Pacific from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Another highlight of the afternoon was the Military Appreciation Day salute to service men and women with Mayors Pat Porter of Kenai and Peter Micciche of Soldotna reading an official joint Proclamation which in part stated, "It is an honorable thing to put on the uniform of the United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard Reserves, and the State Defense Forces and it is proper for every future generation in the Kenai/Soldotna community to understand and appreciate the sacred legacy handed down by previous generations of American military, hopefully to answer the call and perform their duty when their time comes. We salute the brave men and women who protect our country, defend freedom, and help make our world a better place."