Cessna pilots bask in western hospitality

The Cessna Pilots Society converged Friday at the McMinnville Municipal Airport for its annual Get Together, which is held at different locations each year. “This year, we were lucky enough for them to pick our airport,” said Dora Watson of Cirrus Aviation, the facility’s fixed-base operator.

Robbie Sturm, also with Cirrus, said the facility both needs and deserves the recognition.

“It’s so strange how few people know there’s an airport here,” she said  “We have got probably one of the best-equipped airports in the area with wonderful, long runways, wonderful instrument equipment. You can come in here when you cannot come into other places, because it’s got the ultimate, latest electronic guidance systems.”

Members of the society arrived in 21 planes, which set out from points all around the country. Organizer Bill Seidl said 25 of the attendees at this year’s event were from the East Coast, the one traveling the farthest setting out from South Florida.

They enjoyed dinner Friday night in a refurbished hangar dating back to the 1940s. 

John Voninski and his wife, Sharon, flew in from Syracuse, N.y., in a blue and white 1959 Cessna 182B. He said they criss-crossed the country on their way, stopping at points where she was interested in shopping. He said they had to ship most her purchases back to Syracuse, as their vintage Cessna has limited carrying capacity.

Voninski said that it was a fantastic way to see the country. “We got to see the real America, not like on the highway,” he said.

He said they preferred small airports, because they like to visit places that had not been “pasteurized and homogenized” for tourists. He said a favorable tail wind boosted their speed by 30 mph Friday morning, enabling them to zip in early. Fortunately, he said, there aren’t any speed traps in the air.

Earlier in the day, many society members gathered across the border in Washington for lunch. “One of our friends has a grass airstrip up there, and we all flew up there and had a nice barbeque,” Seidl said.

“We got there, and everyone was getting the shivers, saying, ‘This is the best. You guys are amazing.’

“I know this is our normal mode, but you’ve got to remember, a lot of them are New Yorkers, and they’re not used to this stuff. They’re not used to nice people who jump through hoops to make their life good.”

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