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Event has children flying high





A brisk wind brought out the jackets and grounded some of the activities at Saturday's Fly-in at Hays Regional Airport.

The chill didn't dash the enthusiasm of those attending, though.

Jim and Emily Billinger's children Leo, 4, Henry, 3, and William, 1, were excited about climbing into Wayne Fleenor's Rotoway 162F helicoptor to get a pilot's view.

"They love anything that moves," Emily Billinger said.

"Imagine being up in the air in one of these," Jim Billinger said to Leo while Henry took a turn.

Henry was excited to see all of the switches and buttons, but was hesitant about wearing the headphones.

Landon Schmeidler, 2, didn't want to give up his turn in the pilot's seat in the helicopter.

"He's ready to fly," Fleenor said.

Even after climbing out of the helicopter, he wanted to go "one more time."

"He didn't want to come, now he doesn't want to leave," said his aunt Lynn Schmeidler.

Fleenor is in training to pilot the helicopter. He plans to use the helicopter to go to area lakes when he's ready to fly.

"It's not for long distances," he said.

Youngsters also got a chance to climb in the EagleMed Helicopter.

"It's great for kids to come out and see what we do. They see us flying over all the time," said Susan Jordan, EagleMed pilot.

Saturday's events kicked off with a special pilots' breakfast, the Hays Sunrise Rotary Club offered a pancake breakfast for the public with freewill donations accepted.

The money from the fundraiser will go toward the Club's ongoing improvement projects at Ekey Park, said club member Mark St. Peter.

Approximately 10 planes participated in this year's Fly-in, said volunteer Shelley Bryant.

Besides the stationary displays of airplanes, helicopters and the airport fire truck, the event included a classic car show.

Inside the terminal, youngsters could build a paper airplane to fly and take home with them.

That was the first stop for Tim and Becky Martin, Kyndal, 7 months, and Breckyn, 2, where Breckyn took a turn flying her plane.

Members of the Hays Police Department were on-hand to enroll children in the Ident-a-Kid program, and the Kansas Highway Patrol provided Seatbelt Convincer demonstrations.