[Editor’s note: This story of an outsider’s experience at the Kewnaee Municipal Airport’s annual Stearman Fly-in recently ran in the Barnstormers.com newsletter and is being reprinted in the Star Courier with the author’s permission.]
Kewanee Municipal Airport (KEZI) is a wonderful paved airport on the outskirts of Kewanee, Illinois, where, in early September, volunteers and the airport host pilots and crews from the National Stearman Fly-in that takes place at Galesburg.
Dozens of Stearmans, as well as other assorted aircraft, make the flight to Kewanee for a wonderful lunch.
During the annual fly-in event, Stearman planes stack up on the Kewanee Municipal Airport runway.
With two runways, the 4500′ x 75′ main runway and a 3200′ x 60′ alternate runway, the airport can accommodate many aircraft types but it typically sees an assortment of single engine private aircraft. On a warm weekday afternoon in September, lots of folks come out to see the visiting Stearmans and other aircraft that make the flight for lunch.
At times there were half a dozen or more aircraft in the circuit with some Stearmans landing on the paved runway and others taking advantage of the grass between the paved runway and the taxiway. With so many aircraft making their way into the airport, every pilot and crew had their eyes open in the circuit for other aircraft to ensure a safe flying environment.
A Stearman in flight.
The volunteers at Kewanee have been offering up lunch to the Stearman pilots and owners for several years during the National Stearman Fly-in during the first week of September and dozens of Stearman pilots and crews make the short trip. There are always a good number of local visitors, including young students from the local school, and everyone loves to watch the aircraft and, at times, chat with the pilots.
While some pilots and crews enjoyed their lunch, others were still making their way to the airport while others still, who had finished lunch, departed to make room for newly arriving pilots and crews.
There was plenty of flying action for spectators to enjoy with aeroplanes and pilots enjoying the day and the beautiful weather of early September.
The view of the bustling Kewanee Municipal Airport during the Stearman fly-in.
The fly-out luncheon at Kewanee is one of several fly-out meals that many of the Stearman pilots and crews enjoy and Kewanee is always a popular one. The folks at Kewanee are always welcoming, as with all the fly-outs, and everyone enjoys the visit.
There are lots of views of aircraft and lots of opportunity for photography. Though spectators and non-aircrew visitors aren’t permitted to wander around the aircraft, they can do so with one of the pilots or crews escorting them. Regardless, they always have a good time watching the comings and goings.
The Stearman is a big, radial engine aircraft that was designed for the purpose of training military pilots in the 1930s and 40s.
Though the Stearmans range in age from about 75 – 85+ years old, many have been restored more than once. Engines have been reconditioned and/or rebuilt and some Stearmans have had bigger, more powerful engines slung on them. Regardless of the engine configuration, restoration or overall condition, they are a much loved and sought after vintage, warbird aircraft.
Take the opportunity to visit Kewanee Municipal Airport, whether on your own or during the first week of September when the visiting Stearmans from the National Stearman Fly-in takes place and enjoy both events. You won’t be disappointed.