York, NE -
An increase in air and foot traffic at the York Municipal Airport on Saturday was thanks to an annual gathering of pilots, planes, and aviation lovers known as the Nebraska State Fly-In.
When Jessy Panzer isn’t doing air acrobatics in her Pitts S1S, she’s letting air enthusiasts get closer to planes and pilots like herself than they may have ever been before.
“Totally different than going to the airlines and getting on an airliner, especially at these little hometown air shows, you know all the people flying and so it’s just that much more compelling and dynamic to watch,” says Panzer.
A free air show in the afternoon drew thousands to the airport. Air show announcer Howard Nitzel says the stunt pilots performing simply love flying.
“They fly Leer jets and what have you during the week as a business or a job, this is kind of their way of getting out on the weekend, letting their hair down,” he says.
Pilots and performers say it’s a small, but tight knit industry.
“Even a lot of people today that’s are flying the airplanes they have, I don’t see them very often, so I got to meet with them again today and that was really great,” says Lee Baney, a member of the Lincoln Parachute Club, which was scheduled to skydive, but couldn’t because of cloudy weather.
The Fly-In has volunteer pilots who take kids and adults for rides in private planes. For many it’s their first such flight, and Nitzel says they want the event to be personal, in hopes it recruits more people to join them in the air.
“Every person has a little fascination with flying in the back of their mind and if we can, in these young people, plant that seed and make it grow, maybe they’ll be pilots when they grow up,” he says.
“You get to inspire people, that’s the main thing, and it just happens to be doing exactly what I love and what inspires me,” says Panzer.
This was the 22nd Nebraska State Fly-In and is held at a different location each year. York last hosted it in 2003.