The heat is a memory and the skies beckon you to join us in Carbondale, Illinois. The city of about 30,000 is excited to introduce pilots from all around the country to what residents already know: Carbondale’s bustling college-town atmosphere is flanked by the Shawnee National Forest with its rolling hills, waterfalls, ponds, and lakes. If you seek serenity, it’s right there—but if you crave a little more excitement, Carbondale has that as well.
Southern Illinois battles hot and humid summers, but autumn is generally mild with intermittent bouts of heavy rainfall and no snow in the forecast until November. AOPA comes to Carbondale October 5 and 6.
Southern Illinois Airport (MDH) is located within Class D airspace between Carbondale and Murphysboro, about two miles north of Illinois Route 13. MDH is the home airport of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s aviation program. Expect to see throngs of aviation students joining the fun at our fly-in, but if you desire to volunteer too, we welcome your participation. From exhibit prep to aircraft parking, volunteering will give you a unique perspective of the day’s activities. We need help setting up exhibits, marshaling aircraft, parking automobiles, setting up, cleaning up, and more. You’ll make friends and get a free meal, a T-shirt, and an AOPA cap. Sign up online.
Why is Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s flight team called the Flying Salukis? The Saluki is a dog breed originally from Egypt. Carbondale sits in a region of the state called “Little Egypt” because the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys were like that of Egypt’s Nile Delta.
Aviation has a rich and enthusiastic presence at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The aviation department, which is the presenting sponsor of our Carbondale Fly-In, has been operating more than 50 years. Some 200 students train here, pursuing careers in aviation management or professional piloting.
And the Flying Salukis? They’ve filled a case with trophies from past National Intercollegiate Flying Association competitions. Their record includes nine championships—three in the past three years.
The aviation department and the remainder of the college will be open for tours, which includes the university’s state-of-the-art transportation facility. The 186,000-square-foot Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design facility houses the SIU Automotive Technology program that features three laboratories for alternative fuel research, electrical engine control, and vehicle stability. There are also body, engine, fabrication, and transmission labs as well as six classrooms. A separate 32,000-square-foot building houses the 68 program training vehicles (below).
When you’re the only barbecuer in the nation to have security clearance to board Air Force One, you must be doing something right. Mike Mills is that barbecuer, and Illinois is fortunate to have not one but two of his restaurants. (The others are in Las Vegas and New York.)
If you can’t picture southern Illinois as a go-to spot for ribs, open your mind. 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, just a few miles from Carbondale, serves up ribs, along with chicken, beef brisket, sausage, and pork that stand shoulder to shoulder with anything that Nashville or Memphis could cook up.
Mills has won numerous national awards and was inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2010. Hungry pilots will want to put one or both 17th Street Barbecues on their destination list.
A highlight on Saturday will be the Illinois Plane Pull, which is exactly what it sounds like: an ultimate tug-of-war competition between humans and a Boeing 737 weighing more than 60,000 pounds. Teams of 10 will compete to pull an aircraft 12 feet as quickly as possible. The event accepts teams in three divisions: open (schools, clubs, families); public safety (firefighters, law enforcement, military); and SIU (solely for students and staff of Southern Illinois University). All proceeds benefit the more than 22,000 athletes and more than 20,000 young athletes participating with Special Olympics Illinois.
The pull takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the airport, during the AOPA Fly-In on Saturday, October 6.
AOPA puts together fantastic fly-out trips to coincide with each Fly-In, and the MDH event is no exception. Sign up for one of these opportunities for an extra chance to savor the fall weather from your airplane. Each event occurs on one day of the weekend. Go online for dates and times and to register.
Land at Midamerica Airport (BLV) in Belleville, Illinois, for your exclusive tour of Scott Air Force Base, the home of the 375th Air Mobility Wing. The base’s primary mission is global mobility, and Scott and its partners are responsible for all logistics of the U.S. military in air, over land, and across the sea. Learn how the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron can configure any transport aircraft—even a C–21—into a patient transport. See how personnel accomplish clinically focused training in the innovative cargo compartment trainer that is modeled after a KC–135 Stratotanker.
Enjoy lunch at the base, then view a demonstration of explosive ordnance disposal or a military working dog team. You’ll also see C–21, C–40 Clipper, and KC–135 Stratotanker aircraft on static display. Preregistration is required.
After you’ve enjoyed the Fly-In, head 195 nautical miles to Indianapolis Executive Airport (TYQ). Land and park at First Wing Aviation, the FBO host for your exciting trip to the Red Bull Air Race. On Sunday morning, enjoy a pancake breakfast with First Wing Aviation before you ride a bus to the speedway for the championship race action. Camping is available at TYQ, or choose a local hotel for your overnight accommodations.
For information on special fly-outs, check online.