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Air tour soars in Shoshone County

by CAROLYN BOSTICK
Staff Writer | July 14, 2023 1:00 AM

SMELTERVILLE — One by one, 30 antique planes flew above the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning before looping back and touching down.

The pilots from the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club and the crowd on hand for the spectacle were in for a great time.

Curt Kinchen said he was startled as he landed to see how many had shown up for the even.

“This is the biggest crowd we’ve had yet with us as the main attraction,” Kinchen said. "I looked down at the ground and got flustered.

Pilots and passengers flew from Sandpoint to Smelterville to engage the public, share aviation knowledge and show off a variety of antique planes at close range.

“It’s kinda like we’re a flying party,” Kinchen said. “When the group started the tour, it was more about the flyers having fun, but over the years, the focus has turned to using the planes as a talking point to make the events focused more on the community airports and inspiring a love of aviation. We felt like we were trying to bring in some awareness in small communities to their local airport and stop airports from being forgotten.”

Throughout the lunch stop, Kinchen explained to aspiring antique plane aficionados that his Cessna 195 was made in 1952 and uses a radial engine instead of a flat opposed engine with cylinders laid out like a clock dial.

It’s a rare experience to take in antique aircraft firsthand, and Terri Smith of Mullan and Autumn Smith, 9, of Wardner jumped at the chance to take in the sights. Up until this point, Autumn had only seen planes close-up at a museum, but she was able to sit in the pilot’s seat when the air tour stopped in town.

“It was so cool, I wanted to fly it,” Autumn said.

For Terri, it was a great way to liven things up in the area and feel a little adventurous while staying in the community.

“It’s good to have everybody out and socializing. It’s a highlight seeing things up-close and personal that we usually wouldn’t,” Terri said.

One young pilot comes from a family of flyers and was eager to take on her third tour with the PSAAC. Della Rosenkrantz, 19, of Caldwell said much of her life has been shaped by aviation in one way or another.

“My parents met at an airport. My dad was the gas guy and my mom flew in with her boyfriend at the time,” Rosenkrantz said. “Flying is just fun and it’s very freeing. All of your problems down here don’t matter when you’re up there.”

Eva Farrel of Monterrey, Mexico, was visiting her sister who lives in Pinehurst and was thrilled to sit in the aircraft along with her great-nephew, Damion Hooker, 11, of Smelterville. They were able to put on the pilot and co-pilot headsets, which evoked giant grins on both of their faces as they took up their positions.

“Marveloso,” Farrel said as she sat in the pilot’s seat.

PSAAC’s regional air tour helps heighten airport community relations by bringing a varied fleet of aircraft and inviting the public to examine them.

Fred Johnsen was able to frame some of the importance of these air tours as echoes of the barnstorming era of aviation. Johnsen was an aviation historian for the Air Force and also became a museum director and curator at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, and said that the national air tour each year between 1925 and 1931 promoted flying and encouraged safety as aviation enthusiasts brought planes in to be viewed by audiences. In 1928, the tour came to the region at Felts Field in Spokane.

“The flyers who bring their classic airplanes to smaller airports around the Northwest as part of the air tour are sparking an interest as old as aviation. A hundred years ago, the arrival of airplanes over a town got people talking about aviation,” Johnsen said. “Fast-forward to 2023, and the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour carries that same upbeat sentiment and belief in the good of aviation.

"I've known pilots and aircraft restorers in clubs like PSAAC for decades, and something that shines through is a general sense of optimism, with a can-do attitude and a curiosity about the next what's-over-the-horizon adventure. That spirit has infused me and I never want to lose it.”

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

Damion Hooker, 11, of Smelterville, sits in the pilot's seat of an antique airplane. 30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

Eva Farrel, of Monterrey, Mexico, was visiting her sister who lives in Pinehurst and was thrilled to sit in the pilot seat along with her great nephew, Damion Hooker, 11, of Smelterville. 30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

John Struzik, of Coeur d’Alene, holds up Avery Fullmer to get a better view of the interior of an antique plane. John and Mary Struzik took Gabe, Zeke, and Avery to Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning to see planes from the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

Flyers eat lunch under the wing of a Cessna during the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour stop in Shoshone County airport. 30 planes visited the airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop.

photo

CAROLYN BOSTICK/Coeur d'Alene Press

John and Mary Struzik, and Gabe, Zeke, and Avery Fullmer, all of Coeur d’Alene, wait for antique planes to arrive in Smelterville. 30 planes visited the Shoshone County airport Tuesday morning and were greeted by a crowd of locals during a stop on the Puget Sound Antique Airplane Club air tour.

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