Cool planes fly in to raise funds
NEW ULM — The sun was out and not a cloud was in the sky for the New Ulm Lion’s Club 48th annual Fly-in Pancake Breakfast.
The event was hosted at the New Ulm Municipal Airport and is the New Ulm Lion’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Each year, pancakes are served to visitors in the airport’s main hangar. Individuals are invited to fly in for the event. This year had some of the most favorable weather for flying. More than 50 pilots landed at the airport, bringing in unique planes.
Some of the planes were returning from past fly-ins. Mike Pope of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, returned this year with his 1951 de Havilland Chipmunk. A 1939 Spartan from Hector also made a return visit.
New to the fly-in were the Rutan VariEze model planes. The planes were unusual in that the propeller and wings were in the rear of the plane, the inverse of nearly every other plane style on the runway.
Three of the VariEze models flew into New Ulm. Pilot Brian McKinney of Lakeview, Minnesota, flew a 1980 model VariEze into New Ulm and was happy to give curious onlookers an explanation of how the plane worked.
Most of the VariEze are built by their owners. The planes are extremely lightweight. McKinney’s only weighed 700 lbs. The vehicles were made mostly from foam and fiberglass. The engine make up most of the cost.
McKinney said the VariEze is extremely fun to fly. He tries to fly it a few times each week. The only downside is the propeller location makes it difficult to circulate heat in the plane’s cabin. He avoids flying in the winter months.
Several service aircraft were in attendance, including medical helicopters and a Civil Air Patrol plane from Mankato. Michael Dyer with the Civil Air Patrol said the Civil Air Patrol is the organization that conducts searches and rescues. In 2022, the Civil Air Patrol rescued 144 people nationwide.
The Fly-in Breakfast helps the New Ulm Lions fundraise for the memorial fund. Bob Schirlinger said the money goes back to the public. The Lions give back to many health and well-being causes including vision, hearing, diabetes and childhood cancers.
Typically, the fly-in breakfast serves around 1,700 people.