Oysters trump bad weather during fly-in

Oysters proved more powerful than violent thunderstorms east and south of the airport. 

Willapa Harbor Pilots Association (WHPA) members were disappointed by the lack of cooperation from the weatherman. Although conditions immediately over the airport were beautiful, a powerful cold front moved into the surrounding region with thunderstorms 50 miles out making it difficult for pilots to safely navigate toward the airstrip four miles west of Raymond. Although some pilots were able to navigate around threatening thunder bumpers, WHPA President Jerry Gould said the number of aircraft able to skirt bad weather was disappointing, although, some brave aviators did arrive safely. However, Gould pointed out the weather was no match for our local oysters and a bevy of volunteers. 

Gould reported, “The oysters saved the day with more than 2,500 of the little critters consumed.” He said, “Some aviators chose to drive their cars through the surrounding storm in lieu of flying.” He confirmed that pilots drove more than three hours to enjoy camaraderie with fellow aviators — swapping lies while eating freshly harvested bay oysters.

Gould said, “While the weatherman was less than cooperative, the community’s support was outstanding.” He said this year’s Oyster Feed and Fly-in truly was a community affair. Gould reported, “The Catholic Church loaned us tables and chairs that were set up in the large hanger. Youthful volunteers from the three area schools provided energy for setting up and dismantling tables and chairs.” He said, “We could not have pulled it off without our young supporters!”

Gould also heaped much praise on the culinary skills of Sheri Sayko who prepared the oysters to perfection.  She and her crew also provided a variety of salads and garlic bread. Olen’s brother Jim from Enumclaw supported Cook Sayko with a portable kitchen provided by the King County 4-H program.

The event was an ideal showcase for promoting the area. Pacific County EDC donated a gift basket for a drawing.  The basket included all locally produced food items. The EDC also gave out “Discovery Awaits” plastic bags filled with important information about the county. Included in the sacks were fact sheets from the Port of Willapa Harbor and promotions pieces from the three real estate agencies in North Pacific County.

A Renton, Washington couple Al and Esther Banholzer won the drawing for the EDC gift basket.  Mrs. Banholzer said, “Al and I have come to the Willapa Harbor Airport fly-ins for three years.” She said that the oysters are superb.

Dr. Ken Olsen’s not-yet-finished experimental aircraft sparked great interest from pilots and non-pilots alike. His “project” is modeled after the 1964 Champion Aircraft 7ECA, barrowing heavily from the venerable “Champ” from the 1940s. On display was the nearly completed fuselage with all the aluminum tubing, wood frame and cables clearly visible.  The 100 horsepower engine was mounted to the firewall in front of the cockpit.  Olsen explained that currently he’s working on building the fiberglass cowling that will cover the engine.

Port of Willapa Harbor Manager Rebecca Chaffee reported that Washington Department of Transportation recently conducted inspections of the state’s 100-plus airports.  Chaffee said, “We were one of two airports in the state earning a perfect rating for runway pavement condition.”  The port owns and operates the airport.