History, present converge at Fly-In III

Vintage aircraft, civilian and military, are a top draw at the Friday Harbor Fly In and Open House.  - Journal file photo
Vintage aircraft, civilian and military, are a top draw at the Friday Harbor Fly In and Open House.
— image credit: Journal file photo

The face of island aviation has changed a lot since Roy Franklin first landed his Stinson Voyager in a field a couple miles west of the town — actually, it was a cow pasture, and sometimes he would land at night with the aid of headlights of three cars lighting the way — and called it an airport, with a wink, no doubt.

Franklin, co-founder of Island Sky Ferries, the San Juans’ first commercial airline, kept at it for more than a decade until construction of Friday Harbor Airport was completed in the early 1960s. A celebration of the history of flight in the islands will be among the many activities, displays, demonstrations and events featured as part of the third annual Friday Harbor Airport Fly In and Open House House.

Part airport showcase and part community get together, Fly-In III gets under way July 21, at 10 a.m. and runs, officially, until 3 p.m. There is no admission charge.

The opening ceremony features the American Legion Post 163 Color Guard, invocation by the Legion chaplain and National anthemn sung by Sussane LeDuc. Demonstrations and fly-bys, highlighted by the Blackjack Squadron at 12:30 p.m., continue throughout the day.

Keep a lookout for a B-25 bomber flyover, slated for noon, and an L-29 at 1 p.m. Enter to win a free helicopter ride or a plane ride; drawings occur throughout the day. Various vendors will offer meals, snacks and beverages for purchase. For the younger set, there’s face-painting, a balsa-wood glider contest and flight simulators.

The aiport also offers a free shuttle operating on a regular schedule to and from town, including the ferry landing.

Today, Friday Harbor Aiport is among the busiest in Washington state, with more than 58,000 take-offs and landings a year, and nearly 11,000 “ticketed” passengers. It’s home to three commercial airlines, various charter aircraft, a fixed-wing ambulance service, and more.

“The Fly In is more than about the numbers,” said airport manager Dave Ryan. “It’s about the personality of the airport.”

July 21 is a good opportunity to check it out.


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