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Planes and pancakes will be on the runway Sunday

  • The Charles City Lions Club will be putting on its annual all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Sunday, during the annual fly-In at Northeast Iowa Regional Airport on Hwy 18 east of Charles City. Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost for the breakfast is $6 for adults and $4 for kids 12-and-under. Kids age 4-and-under are free. Plane rides will be available for $20. (Press file photo James Grob.)

  • The Charles City Lions Club will be putting on its annual all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Sunday, during the annual fly-In at Northeast Iowa Regional Airport on Hwy 18 east of Charles City. Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost for the breakfast is $6 for adults and $4 for kids 12-and-under. Kids age 4-and-under are free. Plane rides will be available for $20. (Press file photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

For more than 20 years, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta has been the busiest airport in the world, hosting more passengers than any other.

Northeast Iowa Regional Airport in Charles City probably won’t be nearly that busy on Sunday, but there will be pancakes.

The Charles City Lions Club will be putting on its annual all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Sunday, during the annual Fly-In at the airport on Hwy 18 east of Charles City. The Lions Club calls it “the most unusual restaurant you’ll ever see.”

“The nice thing is you’re sitting in a hanger eating breakfast, with planes in the hanger, and you look out over the area and you get to watch planes taking off and landing,” said Mark Melrose, who is helping to organize and promote the event for the Lions. “We’ve had vintage planes, World War II planes, biplanes, experimental planes — you get to see all kinds of stuff. It’s such an unusual setting.”

Melrose said breakfast will include pancakes, sausages, milk, juice or coffee. Breakfast will be served from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Plane rides will be available for $20.

Bill Kyle, manager at Northeast Iowa Regional Airport, said that pilots will be coming in from all over Iowa and the southern half of Minnesota.

“A fly-in breakfast is something that pilots like to do on the weekends,” Kyle said. “It gives them a reason to go fly their airplane, just for recreation. There will be several airplanes coming in here.”

Kyle said that usually about 450 people are served pancakes, and in years past, there have been as many as 60 airplanes of all shapes and sizes, including home-built and experimental planes.

“You can walk up and get close and personal to them,” said Kyle, who added that there would be some antique cars and antique trucks there as well.

The plane rides are about 10 minutes long, and Kyle said the airport is scheduled to have three to four planes with professional pilots giving rides.

“You can get a great, birds-eye view of Charles City,” Melrose said. “They usually take them downtown over the river, and they do a big loop.”

The fly-in is one of the Charles City Lions Club’s main fundraisers, and the money raised goes back to the Lions Club for continued Charles City community philanthropy.

“We like to do it with a local service club, as opposed to doing it ourselves,” said Kyle. “The people that are close to the members of the Lions come out, and we get community members here who aren’t normally exposed to aviation. People need to know what kind of facilities we have out here.”

The Lions Club and the airport have been teaming up on the event for 20 to 25 years now.

“We do tell people to come in early, if they can,” Melrose said. “As things get a little later, and the church crowd gets out, it does tend to get backed up sometimes.”

Members of the Lions Club have been selling tickets to the public for the last few weeks, but there will be tickets available for purchase on site at the time of the event.

“Come on out, have some pancakes,” said Kyle.

“Good food, good friends and a lot of airplanes,” added Melrose.

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