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Airport Festivities Feature High-Flying Fun
The planes were flying regularly on Saturday, with pilots volunteering their time to take youngsters and adults for a brief flight.
Pilot Michael Verkaik, second from right, of Oakdale signs certificates for the youngsters he took up in his plane during the Experimental Aircraft Association’s program at the Oakdale airport on Saturday. Also helping with the certificates is Ann Lindly, far right.

Planes were coming and going with regularity on Saturday, as the Oakdale airport was the scene of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Day event.

“We have about a half dozen planes flying today,” said EAA President Dennis Bailey. “They’re from Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale, Tracy, they come from all over.”

The goal of the day is to introduce youngsters to flying by giving them a firsthand look at small planes and taking them on a brief flight. They also opened it up to adults as well and many parents were able to share the flights with their kids.

Alexis Blevins, 10, of Oakdale had flown before, but not in a small plane.

“I did it when I was going to Hawaii but it felt different than the bigger plane,” she said of her flight in a smaller version. “We got to see the rivers and the houses.”

Younger brother Hunter was on the plane as well, along with dad Austin while mom Elsie stayed on the ground but got photos of the event.

“We’ve been taking all ages,” Bailey agreed, noting that it used to be limited to those between the ages of 8 and 17 but they want to introduce as many people as possible to the hobby.

“We have a lot of parents that have never done it,” EAA Secretary James Davis added of taking a flight on a small plane.

The EAA also served a complimentary lunch of hot dogs, chips, candy and drinks for attendees.

Pilot Michael Verkaik of Oakdale was happy to take part in the day.

“I belong to the flying club and this is a fun way to spend my time, it keeps me busy,” he said. “It’s one thing I can do to be active in the community.”