St. Ignatius has another successful fly-in

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For 13 years, Steve Allard, Mike Kuefler, and Rick Newman have shared their love of aviation with the St. Ignatius community, sponsoring the St. Ignatius Fly-in during Good Old Days.

Both Allard and Kuefler are avid pilots, and Newman is a plane mechanic who also manages the airport. The fly-in offers a free breakfast, helicopter rides over the valley, and a chance to take a look at a wide variety of planes of many eras.

This show featured a 1928 Travelair, one of the first Forest Service airplanes that landed in the Bob Marshall on chainsaw cutout runways with cloth (modern Dacron replaces the original cotton or linen) over a steel and wood frame.

After its second crash in 1964, it sat in a heap until Hank Galpin of Kalispell bought and restored it — a 10-year project.

In contrast was the Kalispell Regional Medical Center’s A.L.E.R.T. II, a Pilatus PC-12 turboprop air ambulance, fully equipped for emergency medical transport. “Planes usually have speed or can take off on a short runway,” says Steve Allard, one of the fly-in hosts. “But this can do both because it also has the horsepower which makes it able to access most of Montana’s small airports.”

“This fly-in was a welcome addition to the Good Old Days festival,” said Allard. “Many times, class reunions and families gather out here and just hang out under the tent. We have several times served over 650 breakfasts – enough for everybody in town and then some.”

He said generous voluntary donations to the jar end up covering the breakfast expenses.

“It’s a lot of work for four hours,” Newman said. “But a lot of pilots say this is the best fly-in, with good food and great support from the community with volunteers and donations from businesses. The farthest this year came clear from Baker, Nevada.”

Pilots are given 10 gallons of free fuel for coming.

“We just want to promote general aviation. We want people to appreciate the airport, and encourage new pilots,” Allard said. “Judging from the crowd all morning, enjoying the breakfast, visiting with friends, and checking out all the aircraft, their efforts were very much appreciated.”

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