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.”