The Beach City Airport Pilots Association's 33rd annual Father's Day Fly-in promises food, flying and fun on Sunday.
SUGAR CREEK TWP. For the 33rd consecutive year, the Beach City Airport Pilots Association is hosting a Father's Day Fly-in breakfast, beginning on Sunday at the Beach City Airport, located just east of the village limits on Dolphin Street SW.
"The general public is invited, not just pilots," Timothy Newell, Pilots Association secretary-treasurer said. "I guess we should call it a fly-in/drive-in breakfast. The majority of people do drive to it. On a good year we'll serve about 1,200 breakfasts."
The event begins at 8 a.m. and Pilots Assocation members and family will serve breakfasts until the pancakes, sausage and eggs run out, usually around the noon hour. Newell says the local pilots will then start serving hotdogs and hamburgers for those hankering for a lunchtime meal.
"One of the (airport) owners keeps his planes in the main hangar and for the breakfast day he takes all of his planes out and we convert that into our kitchen/dining area," Newell said. "We set up the grills in the back part of the hangar and set up dining tables in the front part."
While the food is great, the attraction is the small, single-engine airplanes that swoop down from the heavens and land on the 2,000-foot grass runway at the Beach City Airport. It is a colorful sight and harkens to days gone by when the single-engine prop plane was the preferred aircraft for the amateur flying crowd.
"We put some picnic tables and extra tables in front of the hangar, which is very popular with the people because they love to watch the airplanes take off and land," Newell said. "That's our big draw. People like seeing the planes. It's just a nice environment with the grass (landing) strip. People are fairly close to the runway so they can see what's going on. At the bigger regional airports — like Wayne County and even Millersburg — the runway is a couple hundred yards away."
Newell purchased a house at the airport last year and this will be his first year living there during the Father's Day Fly-in. He is in love with the immediate surroundings of his new neighborhood.
"Just living there and having that atmosphere there with the houses and trees close to the flight line and to the airport ... it's really special," he said. "What attracts people to the fly-in, the non-pilots, is getting to walk up and down along the taxiway of the airport among the trees and the houses and among the airplanes. They can talk to the pilots, talk to the air crews and really get a close-up look at the planes. That's what people really enjoy."
'Beach City Baby'
As one might imagine, there are a lot of regulars who attend the Father's Day Fly-in breakfast every year since its inception in 1984. Newell said those folks know where to set up shop to enjoy the comings and goings of some 100-150 single-engine airplanes.
"There is a row of open hangars there and a lot of people bring their lawn chairs and sit in the shade of the open hangars," Newell said. "After they eat their breakfast, they sit there and if we got good weather we'll get about 150 airplanes, and as you can imagine the runway will get quite busy and they'll be a lot of activity of airplanes landing and taking off."
Newell expects that Pilots Association's unofficial historian and longtime Massillon resident Bob Cash to be at the fly-in, holding court for those interested in hearing about the history of the airport. He may even provide some insights about what the Pilots Association members have affectionately dubbed "Beach City Baby."
"That's a C-53, better known as the DC-3, twin engine cargo plance that did serve in WWII as a paratrooper transport," Newell said. "We do have documentation that it served in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. And it did serve as an executive transport in WWII. We believe that (President Dwight) Eisenhower may have been on board and that (British Prime Minister) Winston Churchill may have been on that airplane."
While there are colorful sights, good food and some interesting history at the Father's Day Fly-in, Newell said the event is about renewing acquaintances and socializing with folks who share the passion of flying.
"We always wonder why ours is so successful and I think it's because it has been going on so long," Newell said. "It's always on the same day — Father's Day — so people don't have to wonder, 'when is the Beach City Fly-in?'"
If you plan to come for the day, bring a lawn chair, Newell advises. "Come one or two o'clock, there's a lot of family groups sitting in there and talking and having a good time."