Scattered across the rural landscape of the Buckeye State are hundreds of small, grass airstrips, their owners housing vintage airplanes in nearby hangars and barns. A private plane, even though dated, is not inexpensive to purchase or maintain; the pilots — both men and women — do so for one simple reason: their love of flying.
Like birds of a feather, they also enjoy flocking together. Their gatherings are known as fly-ins, where like-minded pilots arrive via their aircraft to share a meal and spend a day talking all things aviation. Fly-ins are the airplane equivalent of cruise-ins for classic car owners.
One of the larger local fly-ins in the state takes place annually at the farm of Joe Dreyer, a Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative member who lives near Cardington.
“This will be our seventh year, and each year the fly-in seems to grow a little larger,” Dreyer says. “Last year, about 100 planes flew in and out during the day, and we estimate 1,000 people attended, many of them driving in. We also fed everyone, so that’s 1,000 free meals served. It’s family-friendly fun in a rural setting — a way for us to give something back to aviation, our friends, and neighbors.”
Bob and Jill Jenkins have attended Dreyer’s fly-ins for years. The Consolidated Cooperative members have three aircraft in their family. “We own a 1947 Cessna 120 and a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub,” Bob says. “I also co-own a 1972 Cessna 172 with my son, Shawn.”
Jill Jenkins enjoys the camaraderie of fly-ins. “You can talk to most anyone, and within a few minutes, feel as if you’ve known them for years,” she says. “It really makes for a relaxed, fun fall day.”
Known as the My Place Annual Fly-In, Dreyer’s event is Oct. 13 this year and is always the second Sunday in October. Airplane and helicopter rides are available, as well as many kids’ activities. The public is invited; for details go online to the Facebook page.