LINCOLN — Blue skies and cool, fall weather greeted visitors and pilots at the 14th annual Lincoln Fly-In hosted Saturday.

Lincoln Municipal Airport Board Chair Jim Bentch, who helps organize the event, said the Fly-In originated years ago through City Engineer Mike Letourneau. Proceeds from the event go toward improvements required by the FAA and toward the preservation of the historic, all-grass airfield, one of the few left in Missouri. This year 51 aircraft flew in with the furthest being from Loveland, Colorado. 

“The city has owned (the field) for a long time, they built it in the ‘60s,” said Bentch, also a pilot. “It was in the mid-60s and some of the people in town here flew and they decided they wanted an airport, so they built an airport.

“For a grass field, we get a lot of people who fly in here, and they walk up to the different restaurants.”

Bentch, who flies a Cessna 140, noted he has always enjoyed flying.

“I can’t remember when I wasn’t interested in airplanes,” he added. “I’ve been just crazy about flying ever since I was a kid, I was always consumed by it.”

Bentch and his son Mark Bentch, a pilot who owes a Taylorcraft, enjoy working together on their aircraft.

“(Mark) is a mechanic, he works on airplanes,” Bentch said. “We have a Luscombe we’re working on. If you have an airframe and powerplant mechanic in the family it’s like having a doctor, if you’re interested in flying.”

Pilot D.J. Short, who flew in from Warrensburg with his Cessna 182 named Pinkie, said he flies to the event every year.

“This is a cool deal,” he noted. “Because grass strips in Missouri just don’t happen anymore. To have one that’s maintained and the city supports it, that’s a big deal. It’s a very big deal.”

Dale Schroeder, a pilot, and his wife Brenda flew in from Troy for the event in their experimental (home built) Rans S-7. This was their first time to attend the Fly-In.

“We have our own airstrip on the farm, a little bit west of Troy,” Dale explained from the cockpit.

He said he heard about the Fly-In last year, but couldn’t attend due to an arm injury.

“This looks pretty cool,” he said of the event. “(It) looks like a big turnout. On the way over here, I’m hearing on the radio all these planes. I said, ‘wow there’s a lot of people going there.’ There should be some neat planes here.”

Warrensburg pilot Gilbert Powers, his sister Linda Cate, of Lincoln, and La Monte resident LeRoy Harrison were looking over an experimental plane.

Powers said he flew in on a Husky aircraft. He and his wife Jane, also a pilot, fly to the event each year. He noted he flies for pleasure.

“I’ve been doing this since 1977,” he said. “I have about 3,000 hours in, that’s how my wife and I travel when we vacation. We take the grandkids with us.”

Powers, former Missouri Army National Guard at Whiteman Air Force Base, said they have both been around aviation all their lives. He added that for him aviation is about personal well-being.

“People who don’t fly won’t understand that statement,” Powers said. “The things we get to see, the places we get to go, and the people we get to meet, it’s all about the aviation community … it’s about the quality of life.”

Both Bentch and his son noted the Fly-In gives the community and people in the surrounding area the opportunity to visit the airport and learn and experience what it’s all about.

“We’re always happy to put this on and we enjoy people using it,” Bentch said.

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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