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A pilot’s delight

Fly-In begins Tuesday at Piper Memorial Airport

EXPRESS PHOTO Next week the field at Piper Memorial Airport will look much like the photo above, taken several years ago at the Sentimental Journey Fly-In. Fly-in officials are expecting hundreds of planes from near and far to come to Lock Haven for the week-long event that starts Tuesday and continues through Saturday, June 26.

LOCK HAVEN — Start the propellers and get ready to take off for this year’s annual Sentimental Journey Fly-In at the Piper Memorial Airport.

It has been a long two years since the last fly-in due to COVID-19 restrictions forcing cancellation of the annual event last year. After all that time, pilots are itching to get back in the sky and meet up for some good fun, food and fellowship.

“Pilots are chomping at the bit to return. It has been a long two years and they are really anxious to get out and get flying again. All of the pilots that come are like one big happy family and have been coming here for about 35 years now. They form these friendships and most of them only get to see each other one week out of the year during the fly-in,” said Sentimental Journey coordinator Kim Garlic.

Every year, an average of 350-400 pilots travel to Lock Haven for the special week-long celebration. This year, however, there is expected to be around 450 pilots visiting from all over, she said.

Along with the fly-in, the Short Wing Piper Club will be having its annual national convention at the place where it all started. The convention will be bringing in about 50 more pilots, all showing off their unique short wing Piper airplane models that include Pacers, Tri-Pacers, Colts, Clippers and Vagabonds.

“We have the honor of holding their national convention during our annual fly-in. They will be holding their meetings in the Aztec Room at the Piper Aviation Museum. They will be participating in cooperation with the fly-in as well as having their own fly-out to different destinations,” explained Garlic.

The Sentimental Journey started out as a Piper Cub reunion and then grew from there, said Garlic. People associated with Piper wanted to keep the Piper and Piper Cub legacy alive. It eventually evolved into a combination of different types of planes and models that are not just the Piper Cubs or other related Piper models. It is now one great big pilot/airplane reunion, she said.

The club will also be displaying a special fighter Tri-Pacer from the war still intact with the machine gun and all.

The Sentimental Journey Fly-In will start on Tuesday, June 22, and continue all week through Saturday, June 26. The week-long celebration will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

Special events throughout the week include the golf ball drop, the spot landing contest, the annual poker run, and many others.

With the golf ball drop, Garlic will be selling numbered golf balls for $5 each throughout the week and the balls will be dropped Friday afternoon. Flying about 100 feet above the ground, the balls will be dropped from the air in a Piper airplane. Those whose number is closest to the targeted pot will win half of the money. Garlic said that the average pot winnings are about $800.

The poker run will be held Friday morning and will have pilots fly off to different private strips to get their cards and those who win will get some good money in return.

Each day will close out with special musical guests who will perform, including the Rockin’ Rockers, Kristi Jean and Her Ne’er – Do – Wells, The Lindy Sisters, Western Range, and Phil Reeder.

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