The Lewiston Chapter of the Experimental Airplane Association is hosting its first Fly In Breakfast and Community Yard Sale/Swap Meet at the chapter hangar near the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport. With more than 40 vendors, it ought to attract the usual yard sale crowd — and then some.
“We’re hoping to have some aircraft fly in,” said Patty Betz, organizer of the event where some pilots and planes may just drop in out of the blue.
There is no admission to the sales, but a fundraising breakfast of pancakes, hash browns and eggs is served for a $5 donation. The chapter members are old pros at the gig; they have these breakfasts on the first and third Saturday of every month.
The events raise money to cover the costs of land lease and hangar utilities, and also go toward scholarships for students wanting to get their pilot license. And why breakfast?
“That’s just something they do,” Betz said. “They get up early and fly somewhere.”
You know, the usual Saturday stuff.
Some members have been flying since they were teens, while others are retired and soon beginning flight instruction. The aircraft comprise a wide range of types, but tend to be one- and two-seaters, some of them home-built.
Talking to an EAA member may go something like this:
“He’s not here, he’s out working on his plane,” says the wife.
After passing on a cell number and a message left, the phone rings back.
“I was up to my elbows in grease.” This is Jim Otey, chapter president.
The plane he’s working on runs fine, he is just preparing it for its annual federal inspection, which is required for any plane wanting to leave the ground. This is not Otey’s first time down the airstrip; he worked at Boeing, has been flying since 17 and has taught a couple of hundred people from teens to retired folks how to fly.
Still, he is quick to invite another potential aviator.
“It’s more accessible than it seems,” Otey said. “It’s a little scary at first, but once you get used to it, it’s like driving a car.”
And the cost?
“It’s about the cost of a car,” said Ron Sarbacher, chapter treasurer. “A new one is the price of a new car, a used one, the price of a used car.”
And unlike a car, a plane – its costs and use – can be easily shared by four or more people. But, also unlike a car, the licensing costs can add up to around $5,000.