Annual fly-in breakfast, antique planes at airport

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Residents will have two chances to interact with aviation history this week at the St. Maries Airport.

The eighth annual Fly-in Breakfast will be this Saturday, July 15, at the airfield. Residents of Benewah County and pilots from around the country will come together for a home-cooked meal and a day to admire iconic aircraft.

Carol Koelbel has helped organize the breakfast since she and her husband, John Koelbel, first began it in 2009. They served 55 people at the first event, cooking sourdough pancakes on their own small griddle.

At last year’s breakfast, she estimates they served more than 300 people, and hosted dozens of planes from across the western United States.

“It’s all to promote aviation,” she said. “There are so many young people who aren’t knowledgeable about these classic planes. It’s a great hobby.”

She also said the proceeds from the breakfast help pay for maintenance and renovations to the St. Maries airport. Past improvements paid for by the breakfast include repairs to the county’s hangar at the field, purchasing new tie-down ropes for planes. Most recently, funds helped the airport purchase a plaque for the field’s feature installation, a decommissioned F-100 “Super Saber” jet fighter.

“We try to keep our little airport in good condition, and I’d like to keep it that way,” Ms. Koelbel said.

While the breakfast doesn’t start until Saturday, residents will have an early chance to admire classic airplanes Thursday, July 13. The Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club, a group of aviators from across the northwest, will make a stopover in St. Maries as part of a tour around northwestern states. Almost fifty iconic aircraft, including military trainers, classic cargo planes and more, will stop at the airport to mingle with residents – and allow them a first-hand look at their historic machines.

“They encourage people, especially children, to come look at and even touch the airplanes,” Ms. Koelbel said. “That’s not usually encouraged anywhere else, so it’s a great experience for them.”

The Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club will fly into St. Maries starting at 11 a.m. July 13 with new planes arriving every few minutes before departing at 2 p.m. The public is invited to come out and meet with pilots. There is no cost.

The Fly-in Breakfast will be Saturday, July 15, from 8-11 a.m. Breakfast will include blueberry pancakes, eggs, sausage, ham, coffee and juice. The cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and younger.

For more information on either event, call Carol Koelbel at (208) 245-2914.

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