This Fly-In was For The Birds!

I really wanted to go to the ‘1st Migratory Bird Fly-in & Photo Shoot’ at Havana, Illinois, hosted by the Recreational Aviation Foundation. I wanted to go, I just wasn’t so sure about the 17 degrees on my thermometer at 6:00 a.m. yesterday. Yikes that’s cold! It was to be a day spent mostly outdoors and a part of me was thinking that’d be a good reason to hibernate inside all day. Glad I didn’t. Even though I cringed at the thought of climbing into a frigid cockpit, I put on my big girl long underwear, layered up and hoped it’d keep me toasty.

The ‘bird’ fly-in was the combined effort of the RAF, the Havana Airport, the City of Havana and the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge. In the typical world of general aviation fly-ins, the organization of this event was a truly remarkable accomplishment. I commend Mike Purpura, the RAF Illinois Liaison and mastermind, for making it happen. It was COLD but I stayed warm and totally enjoyed this awesome flyin!

C180 pilot Christine Mortine and fellow C182 owner/pilot Jann Bowne arriving right on time!

Through education and persistence, Mike was able to organize a grass strip fly-in to an out-of-the-way destination none of us would likely ever visit.

Christine Mortine from Hillsboro, Ohio, C180K Skywagon with patrol doors.

Mission Statement: “The Recreational Aviation Foundation preserves, maintains, and creates airstrips for recreational access.”

3 lady pilots who like to bird watching ….. in all its many forms. 🙂

Their Mission Statement continues “We believe in collaboration with both public and private entities to arrive at solutions that provide benefit to all parties.”

This fly-in clearly followed that mission. On an unlikely, un-fly-in like morning, the event brought 10 aircraft to an absolutely wonderful, tidy and well kept grass strip, 9I0. Smiling faces, hot coffee and pancakes & sausages greeted us, a sure sign it was going to be a great day. Local volunteers spent a big part of their day driving us to multiple bird watching locations within the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge and  took us to lunch at the local favorite, “Grandpas”. Jake Randa from Fish & Wildlife led the way while sharing the habits of migrating birds and the local wildlife ecology.

Observing flocks of American Coots

Photo Credit: Bob Martin

This fly-in is testament to the endless possibilities that exist for G.A., the ability to bring non-flyers and aviators together, and to create new, unique and fun opportunities for everyone.

Emiquon Refuge area, home to short eared owls

Photo Credit: Bob Martin

Photo Credit: Bob Martin

If you find yourself in Havana, don’t miss the fried catfish sandwich at Grandpa’s.

Many thanks to Mike Purpura, the IL RAF Liaison, for organizing a fantastic fly-in!!!

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