AOPA President Boyer and Rep. Sam Graves
at the second annual Congressional Fly-In.
Some 120 aircraft flew in Saturday for the second annual Congressional Fly-In, sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) at Gould Peterson Municipal Airport (K57) in Tarkio, Missouri, in the extreme northwest corner of the state.
"We wanted to emphasize the importance of this airport to the community," said Rep. Graves.
And that was the theme repeated in AOPA President Phil Boyer's short address. "This airport is an economic engine for this area, generating jobs and commerce," said Boyer.
He said that K57 was the area's link to the nation's air transportation. Pointing to a Cirrus parked on the ramp, Boyer said, "Every day, people are using single-engine aircraft like the one behind you to travel everywhere in the country. Salespeople, for example, can do more in a day of personal flying than they could in several days on the airlines. This is real-time, on-demand personal transportation, available to you today."
More than 1,000 people attended the fly-in; about two-thirds were local townspeople. And Boyer spent some time talking to Tarkio Mayor Nick White to further promote the value of the airport.
"We like to say 'a mile of highway gets you one mile, a mile of runway gets you anywhere,'" said Boyer. Remarking on the 3,700-foot runway at K57, he said, "In this case, less than a mile of runway gets you anywhere. And doing it in a personal aircraft sure beats the hour and a half drive to Kansas City or Omaha to stand in line for security before boarding an airliner that will take you to only a handful of other airports."
He noted what a pleasure it was for him to fly into a real, grass-roots kind of working airport and escape the hot air of Washington.
The military added some excitement to the events with flyovers by an F-15 (131st Tactical Fighter Wing, St. Louis), RC-135 (338th Combat Training Squadron, Offutt AFB, Nebraska), A-10 (442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman AFB, Missouri), C-130 (139th Airlift Wing, St. Joseph, Missouri), an Apache helicopter demonstration (135th Aviation Regiment, Whiteman AFB), and a parachute demonstration by the Silver Wings Command Exhibition Parachute Team out of Fort Benning, Georgia. Most of the aircraft were flown by military reserve personnel, many of them local residents, and some of them returning from duty in active war zones.
Updated July 12, 2005, 3:48 p.m. EDT