Roger Brining still remembers the day his father swept him off his feet and gave him the gift of flying. Brining celebrated his fifth birthday by flying to Hutchinson for dinner when his father flew as a certified pilot for the first time.
Brining’s first flight with his wife is also a treasured memory — a Fourth of July journey to see the Great Bend fireworks show from the sky.
Brining is passing along his good fortune as a member of the EAA Chapter 1134 (Young Eagles Program), which sponsored a Fly Day Saturday at the Great Bend Municipal Airport Saturday morning.
He flew his 1978 Piper Lance airplane that carries five passengers.
“Pilots love when someone hasn’t been on a small plane before,” he said. “I like to fly when you get a group of kids who want to fly together. It’s a lot of fun to see the kids enjoy the experience. It gives me a chance to give something back to the community. The youngsters were all having a blast.”
The pilots enjoyed optimum flying weather with cloudy skies and light wind. Temperatures were in the 50s with north winds at ground level.
“The weather today is almost perfect,” Brining said. “We take off and land into the wind. We have a little breeze, which makes our takeoffs and landings shorter. We were able to land at one end of the runway and take off at the other end.”
Brining, a local farmer, flies as a hobby. He sometimes uses his flight skills to monitor his crops with an open-air cockpit plane in Barton County. He raises wheat, corn, milo and forage crops on 3,000 acres.
“You can see so much more from the air. You can see whether you’d got a problem somewhere in the field and you can check it out,” Brining said. “It’s fantastic to check fields from the air.”
Area pilots who are members of EAA Chapter 1134 volunteered their time Saturday flying Great Bend elementary school DARE essay winners and local students who participate in the America’s Promise Alliance Program.
The pilots volunteer their time between four and six times a year as their public service to their community. Other pilots who volunteered were Gary Doty, Craig Robl, Matt Hall, Gary Trimpe, Howard Boese, Loren Wright, Bud Pinkston, Chris Pinkston, Steve Dyer and John Schroter,
DARE students started flying at 8 a.m. and America’s Promise Alliance students started after 9 a.m. The youngsters received photos of their experience and received a gift for a free on-line flight training program.
Sgt. Jeff Davis of the Great Bend police department was helped by officer Brian Dougherty and assistant Susie Gunther.
“Everything went really well,” Davis said. “It was very well organized by the pilots. The kids had a good time. I wait for them to get off the planes and see the smiles.”
Community Bank of the Midwest sponsors for the America’s Promise Alliance are Richard Schenk, chief financial officer; Jolene Thurston and Meleah Frazier.
Contributing as mentors for America’s Promise Alliance were Great Bend High students Ema Louric, Kenzie Sinclair and Kiersten Sinclair.
Other volunteers who assisted Saturday were Erika Brining, Brenda Boese, Rodene Doty, Phyllis Wright and Annie Schenk.