Embracing History at Rotary Fly-in
September 29, 2015
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  • The Rotary Club of Douglas will be hosting Fly to the Border, the fourth annual Fly-in and Pancake Breakfast fundraiser for local youth scholarships on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Douglas Municipal Airport.

    From 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. enjoy a buffet-style pancake breakfast within the airport’s newest hanger at $6 per person, pilots eat free.

    Tickets will be available at the door, and are now available for pre-purchase at City Hall, first floor, or with any Rotary Club member.

    In partnership with Cochise College, Ueta, and Experimental Aircraft Associates children ages 8-17 will have the opportunity to go flying in one of several general aviation airplanes, through the Young Eagles program.

    Parent signature is required on all Young Eagles registration forms, which have been distributed amongst local schools. For more information on how to obtain a form, visit your school’s counselor. Flights will be open to approximately the first 100 applicants.
    Raffles and information on historic airplanes will be given at the Border Air Museum with a rare Emigh A-2 Trojan.

    All those interested in learning the history of Douglas’ Municipal Airport, the first international airport in the United States, are encouraged to attend.

    According to airport historian, Les Stimac, Douglas had the first airplane in the state of Arizona.

    “In 1908, shortly after the Wright Brothers made their historical flight, nine Douglas men formed the Douglas Aeronautical Club and built a glider from mail order plans,” said Stimac. “This was a glider of the box kite design. This glider was pulled into the air by two horses and they flew it behind the YMCA building alongside the railroad tracks that paralleled Pan American Avenue.”

    In 1929, the Douglas Municipal Airport was created jointly with Agua Prieta and became quite literally, an international airport. At the time, pilots could taxi directly into Agua Prieta as the noth/south runway was contiguous to the Mexican runway, says Stimac.

    In 1933, Eleanor Roosevelt became the first “First Lady” to fly from the East Coast to the West Coast, where she officially designated Douglas Municipal as The First International Airport in the U.S.

    “It is interesting to note that this flight also was the first time Eleanor flew continuously throughout the night,” Stimac said. “Eleanor loved flying and especially night flights over the Washington, D.C. and New York areas.”

    Stimac says that contrary to popular legend, the Ford Tri Motor aircraft that Roosevelt and her entourage flew in was not piloted by the famed aviatrix, Amelia Earhart. Although there is documentation that Earhart has flown into both Douglas and McNeal.
    “Following these glorious beginnings of Douglas International Airport, Douglas has been in continuous operation since 1929, and today serves many entities such as medical air evacuation, mining interests, ranching, agricultural, political military, Federal, State and County functions.” said Stimac.

    For more information about the airport and its history, mark your calendar for the morning of Oct. 3 and participate in Saturday’s Fly-in Breakfast.

    The Douglas Municipal Airport is located south of Airport Park on Geronimo Trail. Follow traffic control officers to access the airport’s new hanger, where the pancake breakfast will be held.