Pilots from across Oregon flew their antique and unique aircraft to Lakeview on Monday, July 21 as part of the biennial Oregon Air Tour, organized by Oregon Antique and Classic Aircraft Club (OACAC).
It is the thirtieth year of the tour, stopping in five cities across the state to celebrate aviation history and share stories with fellow enthusiasts. Organized by Tim Talen, president of the OACAC, each stop brings with it a certain festive flair, particularly when Lakeview rolls out the welcome mat.
A large crowd was on hand at the Lakeview airport to speak with pilots about their airplanes and flying experiences, swapping stories of local aviation lore. Members of the Airheads RC club were on hand, as well as several classic cars on display. The Saturday Market set up nearby, and food was provided by R&R Cowboy Shack. The real attraction though was the airplanes, aircraft produced as far back as the 1930s were on display open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., some pristinely preserved looking like they just rolled off the factory line.
“The air tour is based on historic records of flights that used to be held in the 1930s around Oregon by some of the early Oregon aviation pioneers like Tex Rankin and Dorothy Hester,” said Roger Starr, who flew to Lakeview in his beautifully preserved 1946 Fairchild.
Back then the tours included aerobatic displays and parachutists to promote aviation across the northwest, and as a promotional tool to sell aircraft.
For the Lakeview stop on the tour an aerobatics display was presented during the festivities, in miniature form, as Forrest Waller, east coast radio-controlled airplane aerobatics champion, gave a thrilling display for the crowd with one of his biplane models.
Mayor Mike Patrick formally welcomed the OACAC pilots to the community, also allowing Lakeview Airport Mgr. Tom Andrews a chance to speak about the history of aviation in the area, and Commissioner Ken Kestner provided an update on plans for upgrading the airport. Mayor Patrick and Lake County Chamber of Commerce Dir. Tule Chiono each received OACAC hats from Pres. Tim Talen, welcoming them into the club as honorary members.
Some aircraft were relatively new, but unusual, such as a homebuilt RV6 and a rare French aircraft, a Tampico Secata flown by the only female pilot participating in the air tour, Rhonda Sprague.
“It’s important for girls to know that they can do this too,” said Sprague, who earned her pilots certificate last year. “Only six percent of pilots are women, but we can fly just as well as the boys.”
The club’s roots trace to 1984, when Talen and some friends read up on the history of the old air tours that once crossed the west coast, and decided to revive it. The club quickly grew in numbers, leading to the air tour of historic aircraft traveling around the state every other year. This was the third time that the tour has stopped in Lakeview, with Christmas Valley also claiming a previous stop.
A barbeque was held at Lakeview Lockers in the evening for the pilots, open to the public, to further share stories and aviation experiences. The OACAC Oregon Air Tour completed with stops in Baker City and Hood River.
For video of the Lakeview stop of the Oregon Air Tour visit the Examiner’s youtube channel or www.lakecountyexam.com.