Annual Fly-in Brings Unique, Classic Planes to Mandan


About a dozen classic planes flew into the Mandan Airport this morning.  

Some of the pilots are local and others flew in from cities across North Dakota for a highly anticipated event.

At the annual Planes ‘N’ Pancakes, there is no shortage of fun activities.

Local Experimental Aircraft Association President Marc Taylor explains, “We’ve got airplane rides, a variety of different things for people to do and just to socialize. We give them pancakes, sausage and eggs.”

The hanger was packed with families enjoying pancakes. 

Taylor says, “Last year I believe it was 1,100 and it looks like we’re tracking on about that again for this year.”

He says planes have been parking here every year for as long as he can remember.

He adds, “It was before I got involved. I’ve been here since ’86. It was before that.”

One plane on display was originally used in World War II, to teach women how to fly for the first time.

The plane’s pilot and EAA member Mike Gunia says, “There was a shortage of guys during World War II. A lot of them were in combat and stuff, so the women came in and started flying airplanes, ferrying them and bringing them from the factories, and flying all kinds of warbirds.”

Gunia showed me the ins-and-outs of the aircraft. 

He explains, “The plane was made by Boeing-Stearman. It’s a 1942.”

It’s unlike any plane you’d see today.

He adds, “They didn’t have the radios we have now, so they actually used the mirror to communicate back and forth between the instructors and the student.”

And it’s hard to resist the opportunity to fly a grounded classic plane. 

Avrey and Adam Walker were in attendance with their grandparents. 

Avrey shares, “I got to drive and I got to turn and go up.”

Her brother Adam adds, “It’s just like going on a rollercoaster.”

I think these two speak for all the kids who had the chance to climb into a plane this Sunday morning.

The EAA President noted the association is a forum for pilots in the area to get together, not only to promote general aviation, but also to learn how to improve safety.

They conduct monthly aviation safety trainings for members as well.

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