Early birds flock to fly-in

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Denis Shoemaker arrived at the New Ulm Airfield in a new model gyro-plane. He flew in from Mankato for the Fly-in Breakfast. Despite the strange design, the vehicle is very safe.

NEW ULM — Early birds gathered at the New Ulm Airport for the 45th annual Lions Club Fly-in Breakfast.

In the main hangar, Lions Club members served pancakes and sausages to visitors. Some arrived by car and others by plane.

The big attraction to the Fly-In Breakfast is the planes and helicopters. A wide varriety of flying machines lined the airport runway. Several of the vehicles were specially built experimental planes.

Ray Seifert flew into the breakfast from Sleepy Eye in a Zenith 601XL that he built from a kit. He said it took 10 years for him to build it, but he had a few setbacks. Others could construct the plane in 10,000 hours.

Seifert said the farthest he has flown in the plane is Grand Rapids, but some day he hopes to fly to Idaho where he did his early flight training.

Denis Shoemaker of Mankato arrived in an open cockpit gyro-plane. This single-seat vehicle flies at 70 mph and carries enough fuel for an hour’s trip. It’s a rare vehicle, with only five gyro-plane pilots in the Mankato area.

Shoemaker also built his gyro-plane from a kit. His business is machine automation which made it easy to create parts.

Asked why he decided to build a gyro-plane, he said the safety features sold him on the vehicle.

The design of the gyro-plane’s rotors allows them to keep spinning even if the vehicle’s engine fails. This means that even if the vehicle malfuctions, Shoemaker will still be able to pilot it safely to the ground.

In addition to the planes, this year the Lion’s Club had special booth for vision screening. Lion’s Club member John Rupp used a infrared screening device to help detect eight different sight related problems including; myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (two focus points), anisometropia (unequal refractive power), strabisums (cross-eyes), anisocoria (unequal pupil size)and amblyopia (lazy eye).

Rupp said early detection can help parents identify vision problems early. If caught early some issues, like lazy eye, can be corrected.

Money raised by the breakfast goes to assisting the club’s efforts to aid those visually and auditorily-impaired and fighting diabetes.

Lion’s Club member Bob Schirlinger said this fundraiser covers two-thirds of the club’s costs for the year. The money goes to help various people in the community in need.

Schirlinger said they typically the Fly-in breakfast serves around 1,700 people each year and they were on track to serve that many this year.

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