Touching down for pancakes

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Over 50 planes and hundreds of spectators were at the Westlock Municipal Airport Sunday, Aug. 14 for the Westlock Flying Club’s 41st annual fly-in breakfast.

Club president Robert Lawrence said that weather for the event was perfect, a considerable factor with many of the event’s participation flying in from airports around the province.

“We had an excellent turnout of both drive-in and fly people, good display of vehicles and planes. It was a roaring success,” Lawrence said.

Of the many planes on display, flying club member Dan Pandur displayed his 1917 SE5a biplane.

“There is nothing quite like a biplane with an open cockpit on a nice warm day,” Pandur said.

“It flies beautifully.”

With so many planes on display, aviation enthusiasts had plenty to choose from.

Linden Bland, out of Morinville, said he particularly enjoyed the chance to catch up with fellow pilots and enjoy the camaraderie of Alberta’s tight-knit aviation community.

“There’s always lots of interesting planes and the breakfast is really good, too,” Bland said.

Brett Snell, said that he was happy to take his dad out for a flight on the sunny Sunday afternoon.

“Blue skies and tail winds. It’s definitely a social group, too, and pilots like to talk,” Snell said.

Though many conversations were shared between pilots and non-pilots, alike, one man in attendance managed to hold everyone’s attention, Denny May, son of renowned First World War fighter pilot Wilfrid

‘Wop’ May.

Denny delivered an hour-long presentation on his father, who played a major part in the development of aviation in the Edmonton and Westlock area.

After fighting against the Red Baron, himself, during the Great War, May retired, and bought a Curtiss Jenny airplane, helping to establish a local flying club in the Edmonton area during the formative years of Alberta’s aviation industry.

Though not the plane that Wop flew after the war, the 1918 Curtiss Jenny on display at the fly-in breakfast, has a history all its own.

“It’s the oldest registered plane in Canada,” said flying club treasurer Michael Breitkretz.

“[Wop] settled in the Edmonton area because it was a hub of activity and he saw the opportunity to fly into the north.”

Denny added that he was proud of father’s history in the area and that fly-ins like Westlock’s allow everyone, especially younger generations to learn more about the impact of aviation and local aviators on national development.

“It’s about getting people interested, particularly the kids interested in the early days of flying and the aviation history of our country,” Denny said.

“I like to share the stories and get people enthused about the history.”

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