NEWBERRY — Around sixty planes flew into the Newberry County Airport Sunday morning as part of a breakfast tradition that dates back to 1938.
President Gerald Ballard welcomed all those present and inducted new members.
For the informal group there are no dues, and there is no constitution. Ballard is its only officer and there are no bylaws.
This breakfast club is a group of aviators and flight enthusiasts who gather every other week at airports to share breakfast and fellowship.
Along the way pilots map out their trips and log flight time, a crucial part of maintaining their flight status.
Ballard, who has served as president over 35 years, said the group places a high emphasis on safety and safe landings.
If not the pilot must sign a ball as something of a prank that certifies a choppy or poor landing.
This is the only group like this in our state and in the country, Ballard said.
At least 150 people gathered to share food and fellowship.
Ballard said that area airports request the breakfast club make stops there and they like to comply as much as scheduling allows.
The group benefited from better weather this year than in 2013 when stormy forecasts limited participation.
Several veterans were in attendance including submariner and Navy veteran Brian Christiano who helped as a cook for the 242 Experimental Airport Association Unit.
People attended from the Carolinas and Georgia including 19-year-old Lizzy Snyder flew in from Georgia and said that she appreciates the opportunity the breakfasts give her spend quality time with her dad.
The furthest away some one flew in from was 414 miles away.
There was a visitor from London, though.
Mike Craft was vacationing from London and stopped by the breakfast. In the mid 1990s he flew his plane across the pond to attend a breakfast and then flew back to England all in one Sunday.
Not everyone in attendance was a pilot.
There were locals who were plane enthusiasts like eleven-year-old Carson Carey wants to get his pilot’s license some day.
This was his and his father’s first time attending the breakfast but they had been to air shows in the past, particularly those with WW II era planes. He has flown in a plane and helicopter.
As a result of the breakfast his father learned of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Fly Young Eagle’s Program based out of Columbia’s Owens Field, something in which they may look to participate.