Colusa Fly-In entices kids, community to love aviation  

The number of planes and helicopters that flew into the Colusa Airport on Saturday for the 22nd annual Old Tyme Fly-In was down this year on a hot July morning, but the event drew more than its average number of locals who came out to look at airplanes with their children. 

The Colusa County Aviation Association hosted the event, which attracted 41 aircraft from around the state, including military and other unique planes, as well as a few classic cars. 

The association’s purpose is to support the rural airport, and the annual Fly-In helps to remind Colusa County residents that the airport is more than just a base for agricultural operations, organizers said. 

“We do it to support general aviation and to promote it to the local community, and hopefully get a little bit more interest in aviation,” said Jake Kley. 

The event also helps teach young people to love airplanes and flying, and entices them to become the next generation of pilots. 

“We are trying to motivate little kids, and get them interested in aviation,” said Randy Johnson.  

The Colusa County Airport, which was activated in 1962, is a general use public airport that is known for having the best self-service fuel prices in the valley.

Historically, the Old Tyme Fly-In drew 100 or more airplanes every year, but organizers said Colusa’s numbers have dropped in recent years due to the rise in competing shows, including the three-day Fly-In held the same weekend at the Lompoc Airport. 

Heat may also have been a factor for lower numbers this year, Johnson said. 

This was the first year the Aviation Association included classic cars at the event. 

Johnson said they were cautious with the invitations, as space would be very limited if the event had attracted a large number of aircraft. 

“But many of the pilots that come to this event are older, and they enjoy reminiscing about classic planes and cars,” Johnson said. “Cars and planes go together.” 

Among the most popular planes at the show were Mike Andreotti’s and Ralph Keeley’s World War 2 Stearman bi-plane trainers, which are in high demand, and sat like a pair of bookends at the entrance to Sacramento River Aviation’s hanger, where the Fly-In breakfast and raffle were held. 

A classic Corvette and Dick Armocido’s 1956 Pontiac Safari wagon were among the favorites at the car show. 

Ray Krause, of Colusa, introduced his homebuilt Pietenpol Sky Scout at this year’s event. 

Krause just completed the small, single-place airplane, which took him over two years to build.  

“The plane was designed by a farmer in the 1930s, an it had a Model T engine,” Krause said. “It’s really fun to fly.” 

Max Pedrick, of Dixon, has attended the Colusa Fly-In several years. Typically, he flies his Cesna 172, a four-seat, single-engine, high wing, fixed-wing aircraft that has a cruising speed of about 120 mph. 

This year, he left the Nut Tree Airport in Vacaville as a passenger of Bob Ensley, in Ensley’s RV7, a two-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt airplane that has a cruising speed of around 200 mph. 

“Compared to my plane, his is a rice rocket,” Pedrick said. “I’m not used to flying that fast.”

The Aviation Association provided free breakfast to all the pilots and their passengers, and fed an additional 110 people from the community that purchased breakfast. 

In addition, the local business community donated dozens of prizes for the raffle. 

“I can’t thank them enough for all their support,” Johnson said. 

While the Aviation Association largely strives to break even on the Fly-In each year, any profit they do make goes toward supporting the facility.  

“We try to do things that will bring in more people to the airport,” Johnson said. “We keep things as clean as we can; we paint when we can.” 

Johnson said the Colusa County Aviation Association is a cohesive group of people who, for the most part, have been involved in the Fly-In since it’s beginning, and they work well together to promote the airport and generate interest in aviation. ν