Kids can get free airplane rides Saturday

PAXTON — Pilots from around Central Illinois — and elsewhere — will travel to Paxton’s airport on Saturday and give free plane rides to kids.

The Paxton Airport Association is holding its third annual Fly-In at the Paxton Municipal Airport from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Organizer Richard Kingery said he expects a similar number of aircraft to fly in to the event as did last year, when more than 40 planes were on hand, ranging from ultralights, experimental, certified factory, war birds, commercial aircraft and a Life Flight helicopter. More than 500 people attended last year.

The goal of the event is to promote the airport by introducing the public to the various aircraft and pilots in attendance. During the event, pilots from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 29, based in Champaign, will donate their time and aircraft to provide free flights for kids ages 8-17.

Last year, 88 kids took a flight and received a free T-shirt.

“We’d like to give at least 100 rides this year,” Kingery said, noting that he just had 100 T-shirts made to be given to the kids who go on a flight.

The T-shirts recognize the kids for taking a Young Eagles flight. The EAA sponsors the flights to promote interest in aviation and records the name of each child who takes a flight in a log book at the EAA’s headquarters in Osh Kosh, Wis.

“Hopefully, the younger kids — maybe just one — will want to get into aviation (after taking the flight),” Kingery said. “Who  knows, they could be a future astronaut. It could happen.”

Kids interested in taking a flight do not need to register in advance.

“Just show up,” Kingery said. “First come, first served.”

The Young Eagles flights will start at 9 a.m. and run until 3 p.m., Kingery said.

Also at the Fly-In, the Paxton Emergency Response Service plans to serve a biscuit-and-gravy breakfast from 7-11 a.m. as a fund-raiser for the ERS. Also, the local Pheasants Forever Young Guns chapter will be serving pork burgers and chips from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Also at the event, remote-controlled airplanes will be on display.

Eighteen businesses are sponsoring the event by providing donations to help cover costs of the T-shirts given to the kids, Kingery said. The total money donated was $1,600. The sponsors’ names are listed on the T-shirts.

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