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Come, fly away with me

Officers of Experimental Aviation Aassociation Chapter 1498 include (left to right) Fred Skoda, vice president; Gloria Husarik, secretary; David Druitt, president; Keith LeCleir, newsletter editor; and Jim Husarik, treasurer.

Have you ever had the urge to learn how to fly? Are you a pilot new to the community who is looking for others who share your interest in aviation? Or do you just love airplanes?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you might want to think about joining the new Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) Chapter 1498 in Detroit Lakes.

Though their status as a non-profit organization is still provisional, the chapter has already elected officers, signed articles of incorporation, and established a meeting date, on the first Monday of each month.

According to chapter president David Druitt, they have reached a total of 33 registered members since their first meeting in February, and the organization is open to anyone who has an interest in flying.

"You don't have to be a pilot," he said (though new members do have to register with the EAA).

"There's no requirement (for membership) other than an interest in aviation," added Duane "Doc" Wething, a charter member of the organization.

The current membership in the Detroit Lakes EAA chapter "runs the whole gamut of aviation" from certified instructors and airline pilots to retired military pilots, aviation history buffs and people who have built their own planes at home, Druitt noted.

Each month's EAA meeting includes a presentation on an aviation-themed topic. For instance, at the April meeting, the members toured the Free Bird Innovations (FBI) Ultralight facility; and in March, Druitt gave a presentation on touring the Australian Outback.

"It's a great way to get started (in aviation)," said Keith LeCleir of FBI, an Ultralight plane enthusiast who also serves as editor of the chapter's monthly newsletter.

Wething said that the local chapter will be taking over the running of the local Young Eagles program, which in the past has been managed by the Fargo EAA chapter.

The national EAA Young Eagles program offers free flights to young people ages 8-17 as a means of stimulating their interest in flying.

On May 17-18, interested members of Jim Granger's class at Detroit Lakes Middle School will be taking flight at the Detroit Lakes airport, through the volunteer efforts of certified pilots from the lakes area.

"We'll need to have about 10 planes operating at a time," Wething said.

The chapter is also planning to provide assistance to Detroit Lakes Aviation when they host a fly-in at the DL airport on July 10, and while no date has been set, they will also be hosting a Family Picnic Day sometime this summer, which will include some flying competitions.

Several of the members are also planning to attend the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis., on July 26-Aug. 1. It is the largest air show of its kind in the world, Druitt said.

Though the chapter only has one meeting a month, many of its members also gather at the airport every Saturday morning for coffee, Druitt said.

Anyone who is interested in joining can attend either the Saturday morning coffee -- from 9 to 11 a.m. at the airport's main office -- or the monthly meeting, which begins with supper at 6:15 p.m. in the same location on the first Monday of the month. (The next meeting is June 7.)

For more information, you can also contact David Druitt at 701-212-5548, or e-mail him at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454