St. Maries Fly-In

For a small town, we are rich in history.

The Benewah County airport is the site of an event that showcases that deep-rooted history when it plays host to the St. Maries Fly-In each summer.

The airport was originally called Pangborn Field in honor of Clyde Pangborn. Mr. Pangborn, raised in St. Maries, is famous for being the first person to fly non-stop across the Pacific Ocean. He graduated from St. Maries High School in 1914 and made the 41-hour flight from Japan in 1931. Mr. Pangborn also trained pilots for World War I, and during World War II he made 180 flights across the ocean to deliver aircraft overseas. He died March 29, 1958.

John Koelbel and his wife help organize a fly-in at the Benewah County airport every year.

Miss Veedol, a replica of the plane flown by Mr. Pangborn, was among the planes available for viewing at the 2013 St. Maries fly-in, organized by St. Maries resident John Koelbel.

The 2013 event was also flown in honor of Greg “Pappy” Boyington, another famous aviator from the area. Mr. Boyington grew up in  St. Maries and moved to Coeur d’Alene, where an airfield is named after him. He is famous for his service in the Marine Corps, as an American fighting ace in World War II. He later ended up a prisoner of war. For his heroic actions he received both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. He died Jan. 11, 1988.

The event is organized by Mr. Koelbel and friends each year to promote aviation in St. Maries. Mr. Koelbel has flown for 45 years and got his start as a pilot in the military.