Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nebraska State Fly-In returning to Norfolk

The Nebraska State Fly-In was one of the highlights of 2012 when it was held as part of the Nebraska Airfest at Norfolk Regional Airport in June of that year.

Five years later, Norfolk once again will host the Nebraska State Fly-In when it returns to the Norfolk Regional Airport on June 24, 2017. Complementing the event will again be an air show.

This edition of the state fly-in stands out not only because it is the 25th fly-in, but also because 2017 is the state’s sesquicentennial.

“Many of us really wanted to host this Nebraska State Fly-In because of the 25 years (of the event) and the 150 years of Nebraska,” said Chris Amundson, editor and publisher of Nebraska Life and a Norfolk native. “We put in a proposal for that and we were awarded that.”

When the fly-in was held as part of the Nebraska Airfest in 2012, thousands attended the event. Big crowds again are expected for next year’s event, which is being organized by the Norfolk Airport Authority.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Terri Wachter, manager of the Norfolk Regional Airport. “It’s going to bring a big crowd to the airport. We’re excited to have everybody come and see the airport and what goes on out here.”

While the lineup of aircraft taking part in the fly-in and air show is not yet set, Amundson is confident one pilot will be part of it.

“Every year, we can count on Harry Barr to bring his P-51 Mustang, a World War II fighter plane,” said Amundson, who is a pilot himself. “Harry is a Nebraskan. He lives in Lincoln and he’s a pilot at Duncan Aviation, a well-known aviation company.”

Amundson said event organizers are reaching out to World War II bombers and helicopters to attend the event. There was a B-29 at the event in 2012.

“Aircraft from across the state and beyond will come in,” Amundson said. “It’s partially social for aviation buffs around the state, but it’s also inspirational for local people because we’ll also have an air show. We’ll have aerobatic airplanes coming and performing aerobatics for the public.”

The Nebraska State Fly-In is held in a different town every year. This year, it was held in Cozad, which is in Dawson County.

“It rotates to a different location each year,” Amundson said. “Oftentimes, communities try to outdo the other communities. It’s a lot of fun. Over the last 5-10 years, it’s gotten to be better and better every year. This is an event that small communities around the state will just throw a fabulous aviation party with usually a great air show. We hope to continue that and improve upon it.”

As an aviation buff, Amundson is excited to see the fly-in come back to Norfolk.

“I literally grew up at the airport,” Amundson said. “I lived by the airport and grew up out there. It gives me a lot of pride to have a strong airport here in Norfolk, to have a strong aviation community and to be able to share that with a state that we all love, Nebraska. It’s a huge source of pride here for me personally.”

Amundson said there will be no admission to the event, but that volunteers are needed to make it a success.

“We’d like volunteers to help us plan — help us figure out what we want to do and what aviation party we want to throw,” Amundson said. “We ask that anybody who’s interested in volunteering that they go ahead and get hold of Terri. … If anybody just has ideas of things that they’d like to see done at the air show, just let us know.”

Regardless, Amundson said he believes the 25th Nebraska State Fly-In will be a success next June.

“Norfolk has a history and we have the network already set up to put on a great aviation air show,” Amundson said.


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