WHEATLAND – Phifer Airfield was the site of the 2022 Wheatland Fly-In last Saturday, August 27th which began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 11 a.m.
The airfield, located north of Antelope Gap Road just past the Platte County Fairgrounds had planes coming in from all over last Saturday. “We are excited about this event,” said Dallas Mount, local aviation enthusiast and part of the Wheatland airport board and aviation community. This was the third annual fly-in since the airport was reopened after extensive renovations. According to Mount, planes began flying in at 7 a.m. This year we added some exciting events. The EAA Chapter for South East Wyoming was coordinating Young Eagles Flights for young people to introduce them to aviation. We had a STOL demo around 10 a.m. which stands for Short Take Off or Landing and is amazing to watch. And the ever-favorite candy drop took place around 10:30 a.m. where candy was dropped on the runway for young kids to enjoy.” When asked if airplanes needed 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 was served at 8 a.m. and was 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 was a special plane that came 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. “The Fly-in was a great success! We'd like that thank all those who pitched in to make it happen, from the sponsors, the volunteers, the town employees and everyone who participated. We fed breakfast to around 200 and had an estimated 20 planes come in all together. It was great to see over 100 kids participate in the candy drop! The airport in Wheatland serves a vital role in our community, from providing for life-flight and firefighting to making our community more business friendly.”
Fly1: Cole Schroeder stands next to one of the more unique planes that was seen at the Wheatland Fly-In at Phifer Airfield in Wheatland last Saturday morning.
Fly2: Jim Smith, a pilot from Cheyenne was one of the pilots that volunteered his time and his plane to give rides to people who wanted to see Platte County from the air. Here is his plane coming down ready to make his landing at Phifer Airfield in Wheatland.
Fly3: There were planes in the air, guest pilots and planes that were in hangars for people to view and take pictures of.
Fly4: Another plane coming down the runway into the plane parking area. The fly-in had numerous events for the spectators including a STOL demonstration at 10 a.m.
Fly5: One of the planes that had come solely to provide rides to kids who may never otherwise have the chance to experience the joy of flying.
Fly6: There were many unique and specialty planes that flew in and out of Platte County for the fly in, thrilling the hundreds of people that had come out for the celebration of flight. This plane was similar to the amateur-built Long-EZ plane kit, N555JD, a plane that famous singer/songwriter John Denver died in Oct. 12, 1997.
Fly7: Spectators had the chance to see some of the planes up close and personal at the Wheatland Fly-In held last Saturday from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.