OLD TOWN, Maine — Learn to Fly Day organizers’ high hopes for a break in the extended string of cloudy, rainy days were grounded Saturday.
Intermittent rain and dark skies — and particularly a low ceiling for flying — kept everyone on the ground and indoors for the second annual Penobscot Valley Experimental Aircraft Association Learn to Fly Day at the Old Town Municipal Airport.
“I figured we’d earned a day of sunshine after all the bad weather we’ve had,” said event coordinator John Canders of Brewer. “There are certain minimum requirements you need meteorologically, and 100 feet off the ground is not optimal.”
Still, the event wasn’t totally rained out, as Dave Pepple, a Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector, came up from Portland to conduct an aviation safety seminar in the Carter Aero Works hangar. Free airplane flights were scheduled, weather permitting, for five hours.
“I think we probably had maybe 50 people total, including kids, who came,” said Canders, a Washburn native who works in Bangor as a lawyer.
The free Learn to Fly event was started by the EAA in 2009 to encourage adults and children ages 11 and older to get involved in flying by meeting local aviators and learning the beginning steps toward personal flight. According to the EAA, 600,000 people in the U.S. are licensed pilots.
Canders has been flying a Cessna 152 single-engine plane for the past year in conjunction with the University of Maine’s University Flying Club.
“I’m still a student. I literally came late to flying,” Canders said. “But that’s one of the things that made this appealing to me to organize this.”
Canders is hopeful that his EAA Chapter 827 group can reschedule another Learn to Fly event as a local event in the coming months.
“We’re talking about trying to do another one later in the summer before we get into the fall,” he said.