Fly-In is out, Airport Appreciation Day in

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

The popular Father's Day Fly-In at Columbia Airport will be scaled back this year because of changes to the federal budget.

According to organizers, the Federal Aviation Administration is now charging for temporary tower services at the fly-in, and bringing on tower workers would be too costly.

"We don't have the money," said Jim Thomas, the Tuolumne County's airport supervisor.

This year was supposed to be the 47th annual Father's Day Fly-in, a two-day event attracting hundreds of pilots, aircraft enthusiasts and families to Columbia Airport.

Instead, Saturday will be Airport Appreciation Day, offering a selection of scaled back activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Because there is no tower service, organizers will not be able to shut down the runway for traditional activities like flight demonstrations, car-versus-airplane races and some emergency services demonstrations.

"Anything that's on the runway, we're not going to do because we're not going to have closure," Thomas said.

However, he pointed out that many of the fly-in mainstays will continue. The Friday night early bird "Burger Burn" is still happening at 6 p.m., as is the Saturday pancake breakfast organized by Boy Scout Troop 570 from 7 to 11 a.m.

There still will be aircraft rides, vendor booths, antique cars, motorcycle groups and aircraft on display, including radio-controlled airplanes.

Appreciation Day activities will conclude with a tri-tip dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m., with live music provided by Chris Miller and friends starting around 7 p.m.

There is at least one bright spot to the reduced offerings - admission this year is free. For more information, call 533-5685 or 533-6688.

The Union Democrat
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