The caller told Mike Schoenau, Tulare Municipal Airport manager, that he took his first plane ride at last year’s Tulare Airport Appreciation Day and would be returning for Saturday’s event. Thursday, May 13, 2004 Tulare airport offers rare air access to visitors
By Luis Hernandez
The Tulare (CA) Advance Register
The caller told Mike Schoenau, Tulare Municipal Airport manager, that he took his first plane ride at last year’s Tulare Airport Appreciation Day and would be returning for Saturday’s event.
Only this time he’ll be bringing another first-time flyer — his grandson.
“That’s the only thing that keeps me motivated,” said Schoenau, who has organized the event for the past five years.
Visitors will have a chance to fly in airplanes — biplanes included — and helicopters. A year ago, 331 people took organizers up on the offer.
“It’s a significant number,” Schoenau said. “For some of them, this is the only time they’ll get access to a plane.”
Those wishing to remain grounded this weekend can view a display of between 35 and 40 historical, home-built and other airplanes. There also will be food booths staffed by the Tulare police and fire departments and the Tulare Western High School band booster, which is selling steak sandwiches.
Flying the planes will be several local pilots who’ve volunteered their time and expertise, Schoenau said. Rick Hannah, a pilot who has participated in the event all five years, said he enjoys taking part.
“It makes me appreciates what I do,” he said. “Some people tell me, ‘You’ve got the coolest job in the world.'”
Pilots say they also enjoy answering questions from curious passengers, often about a plane’s history or capabilities.
“I get a kick out of sharing that knowledge,” pilot Vic Clark said.
Still, Schoenau said, most passengers are in it for the thrills.
“If you ever wanted to take a ride in an airplane,” he said, “this is a tremendous opportunity.”
How to attend
What: Tulare Airport Appreciation Day
Where: Tulare Municipal Airport, Avenue 200 and Highway 99
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Cost: Admission is free. Airplane rides are $10 for adults, $5 for children (Stearman biplane rides, available to those 16 and older, are $20). Helicopter rides are $20 for adults, $10 for children.