2022 Wheatland Fly-In set for this weekend at Phifer Airfield

A celebration of community and family will take place this weekend at the annual Wheatland Fly-in. A special candy drop will be the highlight as a low flying plane will circle, fly in over the runway and drop treats for the kids. Last year Gracen Mount accompanied Robert Hilty to drop the goodies to the kids. Bottom photo: In 2020 the Phifer Airfield which had been dormant for two years had their grand re-opening. A vintage Navy plane was one of the highlights for the day. This year there will be many vintage and interesting aircraft to view. PHOTOS BY MARK DELAP

WHEATLAND – Phifer Airfield will be the site of the 2022 Wheatland Fly-In this coming Saturday, August 27th beginning at 8 a.m. and going until 11 a.m. The airfield, located north of Antelope Gap Road just past the Platte County Fairgrounds will have planes coming in from all over this coming Saturday. “We are excited about this event,” said Dallas Mount, local aviation enthusiast and part of the Wheatland airport board and aviation community. This will be the third annual fly-in since the airport was reopened after extensive renovations. According to Mount, planes will begin flying in at 7 a.m. and although there were 30 or so airplanes that flew in for the celebration last year, he doesn’t know exactly how many to expect for this week.  This year we have added some exciting events.  The EAA Chapter for South East Wyoming will be coordinating Young Eagles Flights for young people to introduce them to aviation.  We will have a STOL demo around 10 a.m. this stand for Short Take Off or Landing and is amazing to watch.  And the ever-favorite candy drop will take place around 10:30 a.m. where candy is dropped on the runway for young kids to enjoy.” When asked if airplanes need to call ahead, Mount responded, “Actually this is what we call and uncontrolled field,” Mount said. “So, the pilots announce their position and other pilots listen and they talk to each other. So really, the pilots are sorting out their own air traffic control.” Two years ago, the chatter from pilots in the air actually drew people who were out flying. Two years ago there was also one family who flew in from Spearfish, South Dakota, that was just out on a weekend family jaunt. Michael and Kristi Rath and their children Faith and Joshua had been at the Hot Springs Balloon launch when the radio chatter came across their radio about the fly-in, so they decided to make a stop in Wheatland. “Our plane is a 1953 Cessna 195,” Michael Rath said. “It seats five people and it’s a good family airplane and we’ve just been enjoying it from Spearfish, South Dakota, and glad we came down today. I’m a pilot actually and work in Net Jets corporate department. I’m flying on my days on and then get to do this on my days off. We got an invite to come fly-in from Robert Hilty who has a plane just like this. We’re going to hop in the airplane and head back to Spearfish.” This Saturday breakfast will be served at 8 a.m. and is free to pilots with a donation requested from others in attendance. .  Support for this years fly-in was provided in part by Cinema West from a fund-raiser during the showing of the new Top Gun movie.   “We’d like to attract some STOL aircraft this year, which stands for short takeoff or landing,” Mount said. “That’s always neat to see with their big tires and some of them will take off and land in under a hundred feet. I think we will have some historic aircraft come in, though we don’t know what to expect.” There will be a special plane that will come in midmorning, circle, fly over the runway and drop candy for the kids. It has been dubbed “the candy drop.” “It’s just a day really about community, getting together at the airport, looking at some cool planes land and take off,” Mount said. “I think things will be winding down as we approach 11 a.m. just because the air starts getting bumpy toward the middle of the day and then it’s not a lot of fun to fly. So I’d encourage people to come out early if they want to see a lot of aircraft.”

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