Pilots fly in for a burger

July 18, 2004|by Alicia Notarianni

Dozens of aviation hobbyists flew into Hagerstown Regional Airport Saturday morning for a $100 hamburger.

Ken Jones of Waynesboro, Pa., a member of Chapter 36 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, said the "$100 hamburger" is a running joke among experimental airplane pilots and builders who build airplanes and don't have anywhere in particular to fly them.

Hobbyists end up traveling by airplane to fly-in fund-raising events throughout the region and spending a couple of dollars on breakfast or lunch, and far more on fuel and maintenance of airplanes.

"Aviation enthusiasts build airplanes and like to fly, but don't have anywhere to fly," Jones said. "So you burn fuel, fly in, land, eat and meet other people. We call it the $100 hamburger."


Chapter 36 sponsored the two-day Summer Fly-In along with Hagerstown Aircraft Services Inc. The event is designed to bring together members of the aviation community and members of the public who are interested in aviation, while raising money to support the Experimental Aircraft Association.

"Some people go to the beach for fun. Aviators take planes to fly-ins," said Chuck Doherty of Needmore, Pa., president of Chapter 36.

Doherty described fly-ins as places where a lot of pilots and builders get together and tell tall tales.

"We like to see who can 'out tale' each other," he said.

Mike and Beth Derby flew in from Fallston, Md., in their restored 1946 Cessna 140.

"We do fly-ins as often as we can," Mike Derby said. "It's for the love of flying and the love of airplanes. It's all nice people and good, clean fun."

"And good hamburgers," Beth Derby added.

Fly-ins aren't just for experienced aviation enthusiasts. The public is welcome to drive to the event and observe about 50 different aircraft on display, including modern, antique, classic, home built and ultralight. Information is available regarding flight training, aircraft construction, repair and restoration, and purchasing aircraft.

For children, the Experimental Aircraft Association offers free 20-minute airplane rides with licensed and experienced volunteer pilots through the Young Eagles program.

Doherty said when he was growing up, airports were a place where people, including children, could go see airplanes.

"Now, they're all barbed wire and fences and security," Doherty said. "Youth don't have exposure to aviation."

He's hoping the Young Eagles program will help change that.

Austin Stoler, 11, of Greencastle, Pa., who received a ride through the program Saturday, smiled as he recalled it.

"It was fun flying over and looking down at stuff," he said.

Stoler said he saw his house, Interstate 81 and a chicken farm.

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