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Members from the com­munity gather around the Yankee Air Museum’s B‑17. Julia Mullins | Col­legian

Res­i­dents throughout Hillsdale County may have heard planes flying above them all day on Sept. 8 due to the 70 planes that partook in a fly-in. To view all of these planes, more than 1,500 people attended the Hillsdale Municipal Airport’s fourth annual Patriot’s Day Fly-In this past Sunday. 

Airport manager and pro­fes­sional pilot Ginger Moore said the fly-in was a success because of ded­i­cated com­munity vol­un­teers from groups like the civil air patrol, airport com­mittee advisers, and other friends of the airport. 

“It went very well, we were very happy,” Moore said. “This was really special, it was a beau­tiful day.”  

Attendees had the oppor­tunity to eat breakfast, expe­rience a classic car cruise-in, and get an up-close look at the Yankee Air Museum’s B‑17 Yankee Lady. 

Hillsdale County res­ident Rick Walch said this was his first time at a fly-in, and he came to see the B‑17. 

“It’s better than I thought,” Walch said. “It’s neat to see some­thing that old, and it’s nice to see everyone come out for the event.” 

B‑17 Flight Engineer Barret Vance said the B‑17 was used in World War II and was the first four-engine air­craft. Throughout history, Vance added, there have been 12,731 B‑17 air­planes man­u­fac­tured. 

“It’s very rugged and durable,” Vance said. “It can take a lot of battle damage.”

As a flight engineer, Vance said he is respon­sible for making sure the air­plane is in “good-working” order. Vance added that at the beginning of WWII this plane held 10 crewmembers: a pilot, copilot, flight engineer, bom­bardier, nav­i­gator, radioman, and four gunners. This number even­tually dropped to nine as the war pro­gressed. 

While many attendees looked at the B‑17, some had the chance to win a raffle for a 25 minute ride in one of the B‑17’s 12 seats. The raffle, hosted by the Exchange Club of Hillsdale, cost $20 per person and the ride itself cost $35; a ride in a B17 nor­mally costs $450. The Exchange Club pro­vided two rounds of rides: a flight for vet­erans and a flight for raffle winners.

The raffle was the Exchange Club’s new addition to the event; pre­vi­ously they had done general man­agement and breakfast. 

An airport com­mittee adviser also paid for five more seats to make a third flight on the B‑17 pos­sible. Seven other attendees paid for their own seats to fill the B‑17 for the extra flight. 

In addition to the B‑17, attendees had the oppor­tunity to look at several smaller planes. 

Res­ident of Hillsdale County, Andi Dixon, said this was her first time at a fly-in. She also brought her son and nephew to cel­e­brate her nephew’s third birthday. 

“I think the people that own the planes are super nice,” Dixon said. “They let the boys get in the plane.” 

People also had the oppor­tunity to take a ride in some of the vis­iting planes and a heli­copter. Addi­tionally, local emer­gency and fire and police depart­ments were present to show attendees their trucks and equipment.

Moore, who has been a pilot for 41 years, said fly-ins are some­thing that pilots have done since their exis­tence. “They used to call them ‘dawn patrol,’” she said. “We’ve been having them out here since I was a little kid.”

Both of Moore’s parents were pilots, and she was present for the opening of the Hillsdale Municipal Com­munity Airport in 1963. Her mom flew from Florida on a four-seat plane for this year’s fly-in. 

Moore grew up spending time at the Hillsdale Municipal Airport and has par­tic­i­pated in and helped out with fly-ins throughout the course of her life. 

“It’s such a great com­munity event,” she said. “Kids love it; it’s great for the whole family.”