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Bringing aviators back together

AOPA puts new spin on classic Fly-Ins

Pilots and enthusiasts from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond gathered at the historic Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, eager to take part in AOPA’s first Hangout.

  • Pilots and aviation enthusiasts watch a Beechcraft Staggerwing on final during a STOL demonstration during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 10. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, hosts pilots and aviation enthusiasts during an AOPA Hangout September 10. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Pilots chat under the wing of a Travel Air 6-B during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington. Photo by David Tulis.
  • The Mayes family explores the STOL Corral at the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 9. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • A youth captures a vintage Douglas DC-3 taxiing to the ramp during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 10. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • A family pitches their tent at the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Generations of pilots and future pilots attended the AOPA Hangout. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Pilots and aviation enthusiasts relax at the 39 Lounge. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • The sun sets above aircraft campers during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 9. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • Young aviation enthusiasts participate in the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 9, 2022. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • The sun sets over a Porto Aviation Group two-seat Risen single-engine aircraft September 9. Photo by David Tulis.
  • The sun sets behind the aircraft camping area during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 9. Photo by David Tulis.
  • The sun sets behind a three-piece band in the 39 Lounge area during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Pilots and aviation enthusiasts unwind in the 39 Lounge area during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Pilots and aviation enthusiasts participate in the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 10. Photo by David Tulis.
  • AOPA President Mark Baker drew a crowd to the Pilot Town Hall during an AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 10. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers meet with AOPA President Mark Baker at the Historic Flight Foundation during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 10. Photo by David Tulis.
  • AOPA President Mark Baker presents a presidential citation to Allen Lieske during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 10. Photo by Niki Britton.

An airfield since 1913, Felts Field, originally known as Parkwater Airstrip, was the perfect location for pilots to gather, learn, camp, and hang outwith other like-minded aviators, all while enjoying the picturesque backdrop of eastern Washington.

The Hangout welcomed over 1,000 registered guests and 150 fly-in aircraft over the weekend with more than 60 fly-in campers whose two-day camping accommodations included everything from basic pop-up tents to elaborate multi-tent family retreats.

The laid-back atmosphere of the Hangout allowed pilots to choose their own adventure as they perused vendor booths, checked out aircraft, relaxed in the 39 Lounge, watched the short takeoff and landing (STOL) demonstrations, and took part in educational seminars.

Warbirds like Grumpy, the North American B–25D Mitchell bomber, and Impatient Virgin?, the North American P–51 Mustang, and classics like the Hamilton H–47 Metalplane were on display in front of the Historic Flight Foundation hangar across the taxiway from the 39 Lounge and STOL Corral.

Cessna 205 owners the Mayes family from Seattle camp out during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington. Photo by Niki Britton.

Eventgoers crowded the fence line at the 39 Lounge, cameras at the ready, to watch and photograph the diverse collection of aircraft participating in the STOL demonstration. The first group of aircraft to take to the skies included a 1939 Beechcraft D17S Staggerwing, a Travel Air 6000, and a Cessna 185E. AOPA Air Safety Institute Senior Vice President Richard McSpadden took part flying AOPA’s Sweepstakes Cessna 170 in the second group, accompanied by a Piper Super Cub, and a couple of Cessna 170s.

As guests made their way to the seminars, additional seating had to be added outside the seminar tents to accommodate the crowd of attendees excited to participate in McSpadden’s “Top 10 Flying Tips” and mountain flying specialist Mike Vivion’s “Backcountry Flying” seminars on Friday.

Tents were full on Saturday as well, as pilots piled into the Rusty Pilots Seminar, presented by Philip Mandel, and the Pilot Town Hall, led by AOPA President Mark Baker.

Attendees weren’t the only ones having a good time at the Hangout, as volunteers were happy to work the ramp, check in guests, and enjoy the event attractions.

AOPA President Mark Baker greets Piper Malibu pilot and former AOPA Board member Bill Ayer during the AOPA Hangout September 9. Photo by David Tulis.

On the flight side, volunteers gushed about the diverse group of people and airplanes they’d met during the event. “The second-best thing to flying is helping out,” said Hangout volunteer Marshall Crew. “You get to see lots of planes and meet a lot of people coming all the way from California to Montana.”

“It’s worth it and it's a lot of fun,” chimed in first-time volunteer Jim Sullenburger.

Between checking in guests at the 39 Lounge entrance, volunteer Sara Schwegel said, “I just am really interested in aviation. I’m a mechanical engineering major and I want to go into aerospace so I thought this would be a great way to get involved. I volunteered back in 2019 at the AOPA Fly-In in Livermore, California, as well.”

A quick trip over to the camping area saw families and friends enjoying the scenery, sharing aviation stories, and relaxing next to their aircraft. The Mayes family of five set up their two tents next to their beautiful Cessna 205 and said they love doing this kind of traveling with their kids.

As the sun began to set on both days, attendees and campers settled in around the firepits in the 39 Lounge to mingle with other pilots, enjoy food truck fare, play games, and listen to live music. A walk down the closed runway took guests to the outdoor movie area where families enjoyed a different flight line film each night.

The two-day hangout brought together enthusiasts young and old to do what pilots love to do most: fly, hang out with other aviators, and immerse themselves in aviation.

“While this was a new style of event for us, the same commitment to our members and our pledge for engaging and informative events was on full display,” said Baker. “Our return to Spokane was a success and we look forward to our November Hangout in Tampa, Florida, and other great events like this down the road.”

STOL Demonstration

  • STOL Demonstration
    A Piper Super Cub owned by Brandon Garden, of Spirit Lake, Idaho, participates in a short takeoff and landing demonstration during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 10. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • STOL Demonstration
    STOL wrangler Jimmy Gist greets Travel Air 6-B owner Henry Galpin, right, as pilots gather at the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 9. Photo by David Tulis.
  • STOL Demonstration
    Hank Galpin's Travel Air touches down during the STOL demonstration September 9. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • STOL Demonstration
    A Beechcraft D17 Staggerwing prepares to touch down in the STOL demonstration during the AOPA Hangout in Spokane, Washington. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • STOL Demonstration
    Hank Galpin lifts off in his Travel Air 6000 during the STOL demonstration at Felts Field. Photo by Niki Britton.
  • STOL Demonstration
    A Piper Super Cub owned by Brandon Garden floats over the start/finish line during the STOL demonstration during the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 9. Photo by David Tulis.
  • STOL Demonstration
    A Beechcraft D17S Staggerwing kicks up a cloud of straw during a STOL September 9. Photo by David Tulis.
  • STOL Demonstration
    Short takeoff and landing wrangler Jimmy Gist signals John Stene during a demonstration at the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 9. Photo by David Tulis.
  • STOL Demonstration
    Travel Air 6000 owner and pilot Hank Galpin signals during STOL demonstration at the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field. Photo by David Tulis.
  • STOL Demonstration
    STOL wrangler Jimmy Gist signals Cessna 170 pilot Ryan LaPointe during a demonstration at the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 9. Photo by David Tulis.
  • STOL Demonstration
    Pilots pounced on a chance to help troubleshoot a Travel Air. Photo by David Tulis.
  • STOL Demonstration
    Short takeoff and landing specialist Jon "Jughead" Counsell starts his Cessna 170 during a STOL demonstration at the AOPA Hangout at Felts Field in Spokane, Washington, September 10. Photo by David Tulis.
  • STOL Demonstration
    A Cessna 185 owned by John Stene of Polson, Montana, participates in a STOL demonstration during the AOPA Hangout on September 10. Photo by Niki Britton.

Niki Britton

eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Travel, U.S. Travel

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