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Airport Appreciation: High Flying Success
Several youngsters took advantage of the Young Eagles program where free flights were given throughout the day on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Oakdale Airport Appreciation Day for kids between the ages of 8 and 17. - photo by Virginia Still/The Leader


Clear skies and sunshine was the forecast on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Oakdale Airport, which was picture perfect weather for a day of flying and being outdoors.

Festivities to mark Airport Appreciation Day started at 9 a.m. and had people walking around from one end of the airport to the other to observe all that the event had to offer.

There were over 100 youngsters between the ages of 8 and 17 that participated in the Young Eagles program. The program allows the youth in the community to experience aviation starting from the ground up, leading to an airplane ride, courtesy of area pilots. Among them was Bill Backa, who volunteered his time to take these ‘young eagles’ on the flight around the valley.

“One pilot reported doing 10 flights with three kids on board each time and another said he gave 43 Young Eagle kid rides with over 100 flown throughout the day by Oakdale EAA Chapter 90,” added airport caretaker Don Gutridge.

Some kids preferred to stay on the ground and take a tow plane ride around the airport instead, he said.

“Oakdale Fire Inspector, Brian Odom was also on hand for the event and made it possible for the fire truck to be on scene for the day,” said Gutridge.

The NorCal Crosswind formation flight team gave the guests at the airport a presentation of their aerial skills flying high and low in formation with smoke trailing behind. The people walking around would stop as soon as they heard the roar of the plane duo overhead, with all eyes on the sky.

“Old Glory” made an appearance at the airport appreciation day as well and it made its presence known as it landed on the tarmac with its shiny mirror-like body.

Shortly after the arrival of the B-25 bomber the attendees received a surprise visit with the landing of a Douglas DC-4 airliner. The DC-4 drew plenty of attention as it flew by a couple of times before landing and parking right next to the B-25.

“The B-25 ‘Old Glory’ beat the Douglas DC-4 spot landing contest at Oakdale Airport touching down on the runway a mere six paces past the numbers compared to an additional 26 paces by the bigger plane,” stated Gutridge of some friendly competition between the pilots. “Tire marks from landing the once popular airliner from yesteryear extended a few hundred feet beyond the touchdown point and the big bird had to back taxi on the runway when the taxiway path in front of a large hangar was blocked by a county sheriff’s helicopter conflicting with the long wingspan extending beyond the boundary.”

There were crowds that congregated around both historic planes throughout the day and some even took advantage of the shade that they offered on the open airfield.

In one of the hangars there were classic cars on display including a Shelby Mustang and a 1964 Triumph TT120 Bonneville Motorcycle.

Outside next to the runway there were also cars and planes on display for guests to appreciate.

There was a Spiderman bounce house set up for the kids that they could enjoy and burn up some excess energy. The Lions Club had the grill going and served up hot dogs, tri tip and other items for guests that had an appetite and also offered cold beverages.

Organizers said the crowd, the weather, the flights and the information provided to all made for a fun, eventful, successful day.