Highlighting recent improvements at the Hastings Municipal Airport, the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association is bringing in a 91-year-old airliner, with the opportunity for public rides, as part of a series of activities on June 13-16.
Hastings EAA Chapter 544, along with the Hastings Airport Association and the city of Hastings, will play host to an open house and fly-in breakfast at the airport. The event is open to the public and will offer the public a close-up look at the airport, aircraft flying-in and rides on the 1928 Ford Tri-Motor plane nicknamed “The Tin Goose.”
Events begin 5 p.m., Thursday, June 13 with a Chamber After Hours organized at the airport by the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce. The Ford Tri-Motor will be on display then.
The Chamber After Hours includes a ribbon cutting for Meyers Aerial Service, which took over fixed base operator duties at the airport earlier this year.
“The airport has a lot of positive momentum right now,” event chair Aaron Schardt said. “We’ve got the new FBO over there, who’s just starting up, they’ve brought fuel trucks. They brought in all the stuff to make it a full service airport.”
There has been a lot of positive local feedback about the airport’s new fixed base operator. Schardt said events like the fly-in will help spread the word outside of the Hastings aviation community.
“Word’s got to get out,” he said. “It’ll take a while, I think, for those guys to get the word out that you can come to Hastings and you can get fuel now and you can have that service level that maybe we didn’t have before.”
Public flights take place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on June 14-16 — Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
A fly-in pancake breakfast and airport open house, organized by the Hastings Airport Association and Experimental Aircraft Association, will take place 7-11 a.m., Saturday.
Schardt said the fly-in breakfast provides the public with the opportunity to see the airplanes, talk to the pilots and learn about aviation.
“It helps promote and garner understanding of the aviation assets Hastings has,” he said.
Both Hastings EAA Chapter 544 and the Hastings Airport Association have the goal of promoting and advocating for the Hastings Municipal Airport.
“The more people you get out to the airport, the more people realize what an asset it is to the community,” Schardt said. “This is kind of a neat way to get the public out to the airport for more than just to see a passing-by airplane. It becomes a destination stop.”
Hastings EAA Chapter 544 applied about two years ago for the opportunity to play host to the 1928 Ford Tri-Motor.
“Our number came up and they finally said ‘Yeah, we’re going to come through the Midwest in this time frame,’ ” Schardt said. “It worked out that we’re getting it over Father’s Day.”
He said the Ford Tri-Motor was the first airliner and there are just a few left.
“It’s back when everybody dressed up to get on the airplane and go somewhere,’ he said. “It was a big deal. This is cool to have and relive that golden age of aviation.”
The plane, which is made of corrugated metal and Schardt described as looking like a grain bin, has big seats.
“It’s big, it’s boxy,” he said. “It’s not necessarily streamlined like a modern airplane, but it was the luxury of the day.”
Strong public participation with the Ford Tri-Motor flights could be rewarding for Hastings in the future.
The Experimental Aircraft Association also tours a B-17 bomber.
“I think if we have a good showing here with the Tri-Motor maybe some day we’ll get the bomber,” Schardt said.