La Porte Municipal Airport hosts third annual Air Fair

After offering historic flights on one plane for the past couple of years, La Porte Municipal Airport’s Air Fair has expanded to three aircraft for historic flights.

“We started in 2020. It was our 75th anniversary of the airport. Our plan was to celebrate the history of the airport so we had a B-17 come that year. We gave rides and people loved it,” said Rachel Boulahanis, manager of planning and outreach for La Porte Municipal Airport.

“This year we have three planes just for the historic flights alone so it gives a lot more opportunities for people to get on different airplanes. The rides are about half the cost of the last two years so it’s a lot more affordable this year as well.”

Historic flights by the Indiana Wing of the Commemorative Air Force can be booked for ages 12 and older for $135 to $750 on a Beech SNB (C-45), $199 on a PT-26 Cornell and $325 on a Vultee BT-13 Valiant on Aug. 6 and 7 during the third annual Air Fair in La Porte.

“All of the planes that will be coming in are World War II planes,” said Boulahanis, a La Porte native who now lives in Westville.

“Two of the smaller ones were trainers. These were the first planes these 18-year-olds would go in when they joined the Air Force. They would learn to fly in the BT-13 and PT-26. These planes didn’t go overseas or see war. A lot of pilots started in these planes to learn basic maneuvers, landing and takeoff.

“The C-45 was a cargo plane. That actually saw war so not as many pilots would have flown that, but it was a very important plane for the war because it was bringing supplies.”

Air Fair admission is free and includes aviation career booths, an antique car display, approximately 10 craft vendors and La Porte County Public Library’s Mobile Classroom.

The event also features flight schools such as Region Flyers and Flight Saga; organizations such as the Indiana Dunes Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, which focuses on women pilots; and Purdue University, Western Michigan University and Andrews University (Aug. 7 only), which offer flight training programs.

“There’s something here for everyone of all ages,” said Boulahanis, organizer of the Air Fair.

There will be live radio by country station 96.7 The Eagle from 11 am to 1 pm Aug. 6 and Rock 106.5 from 10 am to 2 pm Aug. 7 and eats from Door Village Lions Club’s food truck from 10 am to 5 pm Aug. 6 and Kona Ice from 9 am to 5 pm both days.

Region Flyers offers aerobatic flights on Aug. 6 and discovery flights on Aug. 7 and La Porte Municipal Airport’s flight simulator is available with an instructor for short sessions with the public throughout Aug. 6 and from 10 am to 1 pm Aug. 7.

“We love being involved in our community. We have several events. This is not the only event that we do throughout the year,” said Boulahanis, who is working on obtaining her pilot’s license.

“We love getting the community out here to the airport. We don’t want people to think aviation is not accessible. It’s welcome to anyone who wants to be a part of it. You don’t have to be a commercial pilot to be part of aviation. You can just fly for fun. We have quite a percentage of people doing it for fun.”

Aug. 6 speakers include Dennis Miller of the Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team at 10 am; Carina Bertella, assistant federal security director with the Department of Homeland Security, at 11 am; a National Weather Service representative at 1 pm and Megan Johns on Forces of Flight at 2 pm

Aug. 7 speakers include Southwest Airlines chief pilot Nick Caulfield at 8 and 9 am and Megan Johns presenting The Path to Become a Pilot at 11 am

“There’s a lot of jobs in aviation, not just as a pilot,” said Boulahanis, who started working at La Porte Municipal Airport three years ago fueling planes.

A pancake breakfast also takes place from 7 am to noon Aug. 7. A limited number of early tickets, which offer a faster line, are available at $8 for adults and $4 for ages 3 to 7.

Air Fair

When: 9 am-5 pm Aug. 6-7

Where: La Porte Municipal Airport, 2341 S. State Road 39, La Porte

Tickets: free; historic flights start at $135-$325

Information: 219-324-3393; laporteairport.com

Jessi Virtusio is also a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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