The annual Wings and Wheels Open House at the Emporia Municipal Airport on Saturday welcomed hundreds of people interested in aircraft and vintage cars.
Guests were invited to view the Emporia Flying Club Cessna 172, the LifeTeam helicopter and a wide range of aircraft from local pilots and others who flew in for the event. The Emporia Flatland Cruisers car club provided the “wheels” with a collection of vintage and custom cars and trucks.
“Our goal is to bring people out from town to see how nice the facility is and what we’re doing out here,” Airport Manager Ken Adams said. “We want people to get familiar with where we are and what we offer. The airport is owned and operated by the city, so it belongs to all of us.”
Located five miles south of Emporia on Highway 99, the Emporia Municipal Airport hosts 50 airplanes and three jets on a regular basis and serves as a fueling stop for thousands of other planes each year.
“I don’t think people realize how many planes land here to refuel,” he said. “We sell about 100,000 gallons of fuel annually and have about 15,000 landings and take-offs.”
Fuel is available 24/7 and the Emporia Municipal Airport is staffed every day except Christmas.
Another goal of the event is to introduce young people to aviation.
“We want them to catch the bug early,” Adams said.
Children age 8-17 were able to participate in Young Eagle rides, short flights with pilots who demonstrated safety and piloting skills. Young Eagle rides are offered by the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Riley Meff, 13, is a member of EAA along with his father, uncle and grandfather. He was excited to see so many kids at the airport for Wings and Wheels. He said he hoped the ones who went on Young Eagle rides learned “that flying is fun” and picked up some safety information as well.
“They will learn about different parts of a plane and how it flies so after going on a ride, if something happens, they will know how to react,” he said.
For Aurora Lowery, 16, Saturday was not only the first time she flew in a plane, it was also the first time she piloted a plane. The pilot who took her up let her take over the controls for about half the flight, under his supervision.
“I learned that even if you’re scared of heights, you can still fly,” she said. “It was really fun. Now I want to take lessons.”
For more information about the Emporia Municipal Airport and its services, including flying lessons, call 342-3598.