Planes, classic cars make festive Fourth
Last updated 7/5/2022 at Noon
A throng of celebrants 2,000 strong turned out to Sisters Eagle Airport on Monday for the annual Fourth of July Fly-In that has become one of Sisters’ signature events.
The Independence Day celebration was about more than just airplanes. There was a 5k run, a vintage car show, demonstrations by Cascade RC (remote control) Flyers Club and a pancake breakfast served by Rotary Club of Sisters.
Spectators lined up before 7 a.m. Rotary servers were concerned they would run out of the 650 meals they anticipated, making a frantic run to Ray’s Food Place to restock.
The weather was tailor-made for the day, early-morning skies of deep blue in front of the towering snow-capped mountains forming a perfect backdrop for the various aircraft landing to the east. Temps started in the low 50s and ended in the 70s.
Every manner of patriotic costume was on hand. Music played over loudspeakers. This was the Fourth of July long remembered, full of fellowship and shared interests.
Angel Santiago of Redmond brought her three boys, Felipe, 11, Juan Pablo, 8, and Alonso, 6. The boys’ eyes were glued to the skies as planes strafed the runways or made aerobatic moves.
“They all want to be pilots,” Santiago said. “They weren’t even interested in breakfast today, only wanting to go to Sisters.”
Planes ranged from World War II-era to state-of-the-art air ambulances. There were helicopters and gyro planes, acrobatic numbers and historic planes.
On the ground, some 50 cars parked in neat rows, hoods opened so admirers could gaze upon the shiny, spotless engines. There were muscle cars, a number of Corvettes, two of the 1956 model, and custom models from eight decades, pristine in condition and with engines that purred or roared like lions when the accelerators engaged.
Gordon Lucas, age 86, of Culver, made the rounds of the cars in a Stars-and-Stripes top hat.
“This is a fine tribute to the day,” he said. “I can’t think of another place I’d rather be right now.”
Lucas served in the Korean War as a Naval gunnery officer.
For a charge, Leading Edge gave helicopter rides and Specialized Aero Works thrilled patrons with aerobatic rides.
The day’s first event was a 5k run/walk sponsored by Outlaw Cross-Country. John Peckham, Sisters High School class of 2021 finished first. The course took runners down the runway, led by a flyover, and through the adjoining Eagle Air Estates neighborhood, finishing on the taxiway. About 75 runners entered the race.
All eyes were skyward as the Cascade RC Club put on two demonstrations. When the super-fast and incredibly acrobatic planes, one a helicopter, ascended to 200 feet they looked like full-size aircraft. Spectators were dazzled by the maneuvers and could be seen holding their breath as the models dove at full speed, hurtling toward the ground, only to be swooped upward at the last second into a steep climb. The Santiago boys squealed in delight with each breathtaking move as did dozens of other kiddos.
Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire units were on hand, not for likely customers but as an opportunity to mingle among community members, answer questions, display their rigs, and explain their role in emergency medical services. AirLink was parked with their Pilatus PC12 long-range, high speed air ambulance hosting a long line of onlookers and curiosity seekers.
The event, sponsored by the community airport, is growing in popularity. Each year’s crowd exceeds the prior year’s, and the show has all the markings of a classic Sisters event — one totally dependent upon volunteers and goodwill. Indeed, from donuts and coffee to sno-cones, volunteers numbering several dozen coddled spectators.
Benny and Julie Benson, airport owners, are the driving force behind the event that is not just a fun raiser but a fundraiser for the Sisters High School Aviation Program.
As usual for the event, with air operations halted, the runway turned into a drag strip. Friends and neighbors raced against each other, tearing down the runway, side-by-side in often passioned fervor. Anybody can enter and the pairings are often comical.
And that is how the event comes to a close around 2 p.m.