Will Mensink of Preston taxis his Breezy experimental airplane after taking a passenger for a ride in the open plane. The wind sock shows a stiff south breeze, which made conditions a bit difficult at the Fillmore County Airport, which has an east-west runway. DAVID PHILLIPS/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
Will Mensink of Preston taxis his Breezy experimental airplane after taking a passenger for a ride in the open plane. The wind sock shows a stiff south breeze, which made conditions a bit difficult at the Fillmore County Airport, which has an east-west runway. DAVID PHILLIPS/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
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Hearty omelets and a variety of aircraft made a winning formula once again at the Fillmore County Airport Sunday morning as hundreds of people drove and dozens of pilots flew to the fly-in, drive-in breakfast put on by the Fillmore County Pork Producers.
More than 300 breakfasts of omelets grilled by the pork producers had been served by around 10 a.m., which was two hours away from the end of the annual event that started at 7 a.m. An exact count on planes wasn’t handy as a steady stream flew in and out of the airport during the morning, but they filled the grass area north of the runway and were parked in other areas throughout the airport.
Dave Mensink, who lined up the event, was quick to point out that “the pork producers do all the work.” The local organization had plenty of volunteers cooking omelets on the several grills lined up outside Deters Aviation where benches were set up for people eating breakfast.
Mensink said he appreciated all the support — from the county, the pork producers and the public for coming out to the event on a Sunday morning.
Many people aren’t aware of how much activity there is at the local airport, he noted. The airport, which has a 4,000 by 75-foot paved runway, has a full-time mechanic and recently installed a new fuel system that is available 24 hours a day with a card reader for pilots.
Mensink’s brother, Will Mensink, said the new fuel pump has increased activity at the airport as word gets around with pilots using something similar to GasBuddy.com for drivers to find airports to purchase fuel. He cited a recent example of a pilot on his way to the Black Hills stopping to get fuel, while also going out to eat at a local restaurant during his stop.
Will’s plane drew a lot of attention as his experimental Breezy has an unusual design with open tubing and no cockpit, giving the pilot and one passenger an unobstructed and open view while flying.
“It’s just a fun, recreational plane,” he said.
The crosswind coming from the south at the airport, which has east-west runways, made flying a bit of a challenge Sunday, but he said he had little trouble taking it up for a ride about mid-morning.
Carl Unger designed and constructed the Breezy in 1964. It will be recognized during this year’s Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture, an annual air show in Oshkosh, Wis., to mark the 50th year.
Although many experimental airplanes were at the fly-in, there were also many conventional aircraft, such as the Cessna 180 Skywagon, an all-metal, high wing four-passenger plane with fixed conventional landing gear. It’s an all-purpose plane that has many uses throughout the United States.
Many of the pilots were local, but planes came from South St. Paul, Somerset, Wis., Albert Lea and other locations. A strong south wind likely cut down on the number of people flying in.
The variety of planes is as much of a draw as the filling omelet breakfast served by the Fillmore County Pork Producers. The event, which is a cooperative venture of the aviation enthusiasts based at the local airport and the pork producers, has been drawing people by air and by ground since the early 1990s.
“There’s a good synergy between the two groups,” said Will Mensink.