The Father’s Day Fly-In at Columbia Airport returned Saturday and Sunday after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. The free, family-friendly event was well attended, with plenty to see and do.
Free hot air balloon rides were offered from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., again from dusk to 9 p.m., courtesy of ReMax and Kamps Propane. As people walked around the event, they were enveloped by the aroma of freshly popped corn wafting through the air and the joyful cries of children enjoying two bouncy houses.
There were plenty of vendors, from the Gideon Society offering free pocket Bibles to Cal Fire providing children with red fire chief hats, bubble soap, key rings and coloring books. Northern Yosemite Chapter Young Eagles 1337 provided information on their program.
The airspace closed from noon to 3 p.m. for the event but, according to county airport manager Benedict Stuth, Cal Fire and PHI’s medical helicopter were still on duty the entire time.
“If the phone rings, we’ll leave you,” he said.
Krystall Johanson, with Yosemite Flights from Pine Mountain Lake, signed people up for flights in a Cessna 404 piloted by her husband, Jason, who has attended the Father’s Day Fly-In for 15 years. Their 16-year-old son, Jonas, is the co-pilot and flew alone from their home to Columbia Airport in a three-seat Cessna 182.
The Johansons offered a 20-minute flight in the nine-passenger Cessna 404 Titan, where every seat is a window seat, with aerial views of Columbia, Jamestown, Sonora, Table Mountain and New Melones Reservoir.
“It was really fun to see the quarry and the lakes from the air,” said Ben Kray, 20, of Santa Barbara, who attended the event with his father, Bryan, a Concord Flying Club pilot, and went up for a walk. in a Cessna 404.
A colorful fleet of classic and Model A cars were on display with their proud owners waiting in the wings to accept compliments and answer any questions.
Mike Schulze, 64, of Hillmar and member of Sonora Ace brought his 1931 Ford Model A Convertible. A large stuffed chicken with glasses sat in the front passenger seat. Schulze said the chicken rides in the passenger seat when his wife isn’t there.
A group of men sat near a 1940 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special with two side racks. Its owner, Charlie Morgan, 68, of Sonora, said he and the guys had been friends for 50 years and used to hit the strip in San Leandro.
Adults and children had the opportunity to experience a Bell 212 HP helicopter belonging to pilot Travis Harrold, of Sonora and Cottage Grove, Oregon. His company, Intermountain Helicopters, is a private company that delivers firefighters to fight fires as well as construction materials.
An all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner of barrel-smoked tri-tip, barrel-smoked chicken, boneless ribs, and jalapeno macaroni and cheese was served by The Sierra’s Table at 5 p.m., Saturday, with live entertainment air. The hot air balloon flights, which were to resume at 8:30 p.m., were canceled due to the wind. A nighttime movie, “Planes: Fire and Rescue” was shown on the grassy area near the track.