GLENDO – Billed as the largest grassroots fly-in in Wyoming, the Thomas Memorial Airport 17th Annual Fly-In was host to hundreds of people, young and old who called themselves aviation enthusiasts.
The two-day event had great food, evening entertainment and flying competitions like flour drops and balloon busts, along with the kids’ toy drop feature.
In promoting the event, the invitations were unique as they listed the coordinates for Glendo. Latitude 42° 31’ 12.1” N, the Longitude 105° 01’ 12.1” W and the elevation, which was 4,666 feet.
The festivities began Saturday with skydivers and radio-controlled planes, however, not at the same time. On Sunday the pilots participated in competitions such as the flour bombing contest and the balloon busting contest. There was also a special toy drop for the kids.
A free barbecue was also featured at noon on Sunday and was free to the public.
One of the highlights that kicked off the Sunday flying competitions was the skydiving team from Denver that parachuted in with one diver bearing a huge American flag as the crowd sang the national anthem.
Kris Kendall who was a part of the skydiving team was the man who jumped last and came bearing the flag.
“I’m just lucky to be part of a special group of skydivers,” Kendall said. “We kind of trade off on all the responsibilities and today I got to fly the flag. We are just a local Denver club of aviation enthusiast who like to fly and love to jump.”
Most of the team are both pilots and skydivers who attend many events like the Glendo Fly-In. Kendall’s dad was a pilot when he was growing up and had an intense passion for both flying and then later in life, skydiving.
“About 15 years ago, my dad decided to build an airplane,” Kendall said. “It took about five years and I got my license in that and somewhere around there I started skydiving as well.”
Kendall took his first jump at age 34 and most people wonder what makes a person decide they want to jump out of a plane.
“I was just looking for something different in life, I guess,” Kendall said. “I still have a regular engineering job, kind of a run of the mill house owner and everything else, but skydiving offers some kind of freedom.”
Because he was so inundated with technique and rules the first few times he jumped, that he said he was robbed of the awesomeness of the total experience.
“By the time you get to jump seven or eight, they let you go out all on your own, and that was quite an experience,” he said. “You’re just flying by yourself and it seems like the longest minute in your life. It’s a pretty good adrenaline rush and a lot of people like to call us adrenaline junkies, although I’ve never found that term to be completely accurate. Diving puts you in the moment. You’re not thinking about your taxes or trouble with your wife. You’re just doing that thing at that moment. It’s kind of like a Zen experience in that respect.”
The competitions were run by Dallas Chopping of Casper who said that there were 50 planes and hundreds
“It is definitely a fun event,” Chopping said.