For more than a half century, the buzz of cool aircraft — and the aroma of a delicious, hot breakfast — has filled the air over the Williams County Regional Airport in Bryan on July Fourth.
This year is no different. Thursday, the airplanes and the hungry hordes will be welcomed by Bryan Kiwanians and the airport boosters group for the 52nd annual July 4 Fly-In Breakfast.
The event typically draws thousands of local residents to view the variety of aircraft and enjoy a pancake, ham and egg breakfast. Serving will take place from 7-11 a.m. Thursday at the airport.
In past years, the roster of aircraft has included a World War II-era BT-13 Valiant, an AT6, a Stemme S12 glider and a Life Flight helicopter.
“This year there will be a variety of planes and lots of things to see and do,” promises Bryan Kiwanis Club President Dick Brickel.
Announced for this year’s Fly-In is the return of the World War II-era Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bomber. Kiwanis Club members will be offering tickets for rides in the plane this year to be arranged at a later date, after the Fly-In.
The TBF Avenger is an American torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and eventually used by several air and naval aviation services around the world.
It entered U.S. service in 1942 and first saw action during the Battle of Midway.
Charlie Cartledge of Orrville is owner and pilot of the three-seater plane that has visited Bryan at past Fly-Ins.
Each year the crowd on hand to view the aircraft is estimated in the thousands, and some years the number of breakfasts served has topped 1,500, Brickel said.
This is the final year the Bryan Kiwanis Club will be the managing and operating host for the Fly-In breakfast. Citing a declining number of volunteers, the club earlier this year sought a group to take it over and the Williams County Airport Boosters group has said it will come alongside the Kiwanis Club this year with an eye toward becoming the presenting group next year.
The Bryan Kiwanis Club has said once the airport boosters become the managing host, Kiwanians will continue to provide volunteers and assistance in the future.
As in past years, funds raised at the Fly-In by the Bryan Kiwanis Club go back into the community for a variety of causes, including scholarships, children’s activities and the Christmas for Kids toy program.