Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Dozens of planes flew into Washington Sunday morning, visiting the municipal airport breakfast from across the state.
“Our goal is to get other pilots from other towns to show up and bring their planes in,” Municipal Airport Commission Chair Kevin Erpelding said. “Then we just want families to come out and get kids interested in aviation.”
Erpelding said word of pancake breakfasts like Washington’s spread online through the state Department of Transportation website, but largely by word-of-mouth.
“We get people from probably an hour to an hour-and-a-half away,” he said. “Iowa City had a fly-in breakfast a couple weeks ago, and one of our pilots went up to hand out flyers to some of the people that were up there. The pilots themselves do a lot of advertising.”
Erpelding said the airport expected 300-400 guests throughout the morning and hoped to draw about 45 aircraft. Revenue from those visitors were planned for a viewing area at the airport, built around an already-donated memorial bench.
“We’re going to try to put a memorial out to the south of a terminal building,” Erpelding said. “Kind of a viewing area so you can see the planes as they come in and out. Any extra money will go to that.”
Some planes drew more attention than others. Jim Rolfe, a pilot from Bennett, flew in and out on a Douglas Skyraider, a massive Vietnam-era plane with only 14 airworthy models left in the United States.
Others touched down at the breakfast in more humble aircraft. Pilot John Chargo said he and his family traveled from Cedar Rapids to a handful of airport breakfasts when they had the chance.
“Our 2-year old-likes the airplanes and pancakes,” he said.
Scott Pearson, a pilot from Tipton, said he followed friends to the events.
“We’ll go to some that are a bit further distance if we have friends there,” he said. “Typically, unless we have something else we have to do, we’ll go within a hundred miles … It’s just nice gathering, and usually it’s people we don’t see anywhere else.”
Air Care Flight Medic Dean Jensen said events like Washington’s were a perk of his job.
“This if the fun part of our job,” he said. “It’s a friendly atmosphere. It’s nice because usually we see people on somebody’s worst day, it’s just fun.”