Event planned to increase interest in flying, Paxton airport

PAXTON – A group of local pilots, affiliated with the Experimental Aircraft Association, will sponsor a fly-in, drive-in at the municipal airport on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Members of the city's Emergency Response Service and other volunteers will provide breakfast and lunch. There will be a demonstration of hot air balloons, a car show and opportunities for radio-controlled plane handlers to fly their planes. Pilots from the Champaign chapter of the EAA will present a Young Eagles program. That means they will give free plane rides to children and youths aged 8-17 as long as parents are present and sign a permission form. Nationally the program's goal was to provide one million rides. As many as 1,500,000 rides have already been given.

The event is one way to bring more non-flyers out to the airport. The pilots group' has told the city council they will take a more active role in promoting and running the airport. Pilot Rob Steiger says the fly-in will raise awareness of the airport.

The fly-in is the first open to the general public in more than 30 years. Pilot Dan Grunloh said it's usually the airport manager who instigates a fly-in. The city has had little luck in the past 10 years attracting a fixed base operator.

The local pilots' group, many of them ultralight pilots, have had small events in recent years but those have been aimed at other ultralight pilots.

The Paxton airport is west of the Interstate 57 exit on Illinois 9.

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