April 30, 2014
By Alyssa J. Miller
Indianapolis-area Experimental Aircraft Association chapters have fly-in pancake breakfasts down to a science. They know the best batter consistency, production flow, and condiment layout—all to please pilots’ discriminating palates and serve them hot breakfasts as efficiently as possible.
Many of the chapters in the area are coming together to host the pancake breakfast at AOPA’s Indianapolis Fly-In on May 31. Planning for the breakfast started in February. The key to success, according to the local EAA members, is to have a lot of pancakes, a lot of sausage, and a good group of airplanes on display. Brian Crull, president of EAA Chapter 67, said his chapter may have “1,000 people in attendance” at their pancake breakfasts at Noblesville Airport in Noblesville, Ind. “The batter has to be mixed perfect,” Crull said, recommending a thin consistency of Krusteaz pancake mix.
Pilots planning to attend the Indianapolis AOPA Fly-In should RSVP early. Submit your RSVP, and let AOPA know how many are planning to attend with you. Also, the RSVP will ensure a free lunch for you and your immediate family members, and allow you to reserve your spot for the $5 pancake breakfast. (When you’re in line to get those hotcakes, tip your hat to the EAA chapter members—they are pulling out all the stops.)
Tickets also are on sale in advance for a ride in EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast, which will be offering rides on May 30 and 31, and June 1.
Many of the pilots have worked together already at pancake breakfasts. “He was in charge of batter making; I was in charge of flipping,” said Jon Schmidtke, a member of EAA chapters 1121, 67, and 900 in the Indianapolis area.
With the precision of ATC lining up arrivals into a Class B primary airport, these chapter members are assigning duties. When many pilots will be preflighting their airplanes at 7 a.m. to head to Indianapolis Regional, the EAA chapters will be mixing batter; at 7:15 a.m. they’ll start cooking to build up a supply for those first arrivals when the $5-per-person breakfast opens at 8:30 a.m.
They are just as particular about their cooking equipment as pilots are about the avionics and gadgets onboard their aircraft. Only metal flippers will do, Teflon ones tend to melt. The mixers will be industrial grade.
And, they know pilots will arrive early. “It’s like a garage sale. You start at 8 [a.m.] but everybody’s lined up [early],” one EAA member joked.
The chapters host events like these throughout the summer because “we want to share our love of general aviation with the public,” Crull said. Because there are so many chapters hosting events on weekends in central Indiana—all careful not to offer multiple events on the same weekend—there’s always a new place to fly. “When we’re done with our individual events, we want to fly somewhere the next weekend to get waited on,” said Allan Grabeman.
The AOPA Fly-In marks the first time so many chapters in the Indianapolis area have worked collectively on a project, but they said it won’t be the last. The chapters hope to have a regional presence with activities all of the members can enjoy. Many pilots, like Schmidtke, already are members of more than one EAA chapter. The chapters developed the idea after meeting EAA members from the Dallas area who have a loose organization of chapters working together.
Each chapter has its own “flavor,” according to Dennis Hutchinson, president of EAA Chapter 1121—fly-ins, Young Eagles flights, a museum, homebuilt projects, and ultralights—but “all of our chapters working together will be stronger.”
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Miller has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
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