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Clear Skies Perfect Setting For Airports Open House
Members of the Norcal Crosswinds team provide an aerial display for those attending Saturdays open house at the Oakdale Airport. Marg Jackson/The leader

Whether you like Piper Cubs or prefer a good Cessna 195, chances are you could have found them on Saturday.

It was the annual Oakdale Airport Open House, hosted in conjunction with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 90 at the airport.

Festivities began at 10 a.m. and ran through midafternoon, with free airplane rides for kids, a demonstration of aerial skill by the Norcal Crosswinds team, and information provided by a number of organizations. Members of the Civil Air Patrol were on hand, Oakdale Fire Department was in attendance, the Oakdale Lions Club manned the barbecue grill, Sierra West Airlines had its hangar open and welcomed in the crowd; there was plenty to see and do.

“We also had the Wings of Rescue plane here, they took animals out from shelters where there was no space, taking them to shelters that do have space so they can live,” said Open House organizer Don Gutridge, the onsite caretaker at the airport.

“We have lots of aircraft, a Piper Cub, that’s s classic, we have a T 34 old military plane, a Cessna 195, we have a Navy BT 13 trainer, they are very rare, there are only 15 of them flying,” noted Gutridge.

The Norcal Crosswinds formation team was a hit, using their classic planes to perform some aerobatic maneuvers. Pilots were Ken Talovich from Groveland, Scott Chastain of Merced and Mike Terpstra of Modesto.

“They provided a formation demonstration and they train others to do formations, which is a very difficult thing to do,” Gutridge explained.

Along with the displays, Gutridge said the best part of the day was pilots volunteering their time, talent and planes to take youngsters for a free plane ride, introducing them to the thrill of flying.

“Last year we had over 100,” he said of the ‘Young Eagles’ taking flight. Numbers were down a little this year but still a good crowd turned out.

A special ceremony remembering Nicole Gutridge, Don’s late wife who passed just recently, saluted her dedication to the airport and noted that the pilot’s lounge at the field will be dedicated in her memory.

Along with planes, the Model T Car Club had some autos on display, the Cobra Experience Club had their hot rods on scene and the Sheriff’s Department helicopter was also on display. Many of the vintage planes were open for inspection and all things aviation were front and center.

“The weather was nice, a perfect day for flying,” Gutridge said of the clear skies. “This is a great community event.”