Vintage planes and hot air balloon flights: Sequim looks to the skies for Air Affaire this weekend

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

Air Affaire Schedule
SEQUIM — The Olympic Peninsula Air Affaire will be from 
7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Sequim Valley Airport, 468 Dorothy Hunt Road.

Admission is free. Parking is $5 per carload.

7 a.m. to 9 a.m. both days — Hot air balloon rides. $250 per ride. Reservations required. Contact Capt. Crystal Stout for more information at 360-601-2433 or airboss@nwplace.com.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days — Remote-controlled plane demonstrations, plane show and shine, biplane rides $135 with reservations at www.westcoastspin
doctors.com, vendors and live music.
 9 a.m. both days — Car show and shine, no fee. Phone 360-417-0676 for more information.

 10 a.m. both days — Skydiver.

 10:30 a.m. Saturday — Swift formation smoke planes.

 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. both days — Hot air balloon tethers.

  1 p.m. both days — Wing walker demonstration.

For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/AirAffaire, phone 360-670-6294 or email olympicpeninsulaair
affaire@gmail.com.
SEQUIM –– In 1983, pilots referred to the “Blue Hole” over Sequim as a notable reference point when flying over the North Olympic Peninsula.

Thanks to the efforts of the Sallee family that year, pilots have been able to land under clear skies at Sequim Valley Airport near Carlsborg for the past 30 years.

“It was a good spot, and I think a lot people thought there was a need for a real airport instead of the landing strips that were scattered around back then,” said Andy Sallee, president of the airport at 468 Dorothy Hunt Road and son of founder Jack Sallee.

Now, dozens of planes land at Sequim Valley Airport each day.

The airport's three decades will be celebrated this weekend with the festival of flight that will be the Olympic Peninsula Air Affaire, which also marks the city's centennial.

“It's going to be a ball,” said Emily Westcott, Air Affaire co-organizer and local pilot.

“We wanted to thank the Sallees for having this airport for us for the last 30 years, and it was perfect that this fell during the city's 100th birthday.”

The Air Affaire will include a number of vintage aircraft flying in for the weekend bash, along with hot air balloons, stunt pilots, wing walkers, remote-controlled planes and a classic car show. Events will run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Admission is free. Parking is $5 per vehicle.

A group of Diamond Point pilots in Globe Swift aircraft will make a special flight at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, doing three or four passes over the runway.

Mike and Marilyn Mason of Sequim will offer rides in their 1943 Stearman biplane for $135 at various times throughout the event.

Hot air balloon rides will be offered for $250 per ride from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. both days. Landowners may enter a drawing for free rides by placing a white sheet in their open field so balloon pilots know they have a safe landing zone.

Jack Sallee flew jets commercially for Braniff International and in the military for the Navy and Air Force.

He met his wife, Winnie, in England and brought her back to the Dungeness Valley, where they passed along their love of the skies to their family, with three of four sons becoming professional pilots.

“The skies are a big thing for our family,” Andy Sallee said.

Jack lost his job flying after Braniff went bankrupt and turned his attention to developing an airport in Sequim.

The couple turned a hayfield into a grass landing strip and began adding aviation structures to it.

“It's off the wind and the fog by the water, and out of the rain by the mountains. It was just a great spot,” Andy said.

In 1985, the family paved the 3,500-foot runway, which can hold 12,500-pound commercial aircraft.

The next year, they added a maintenance hangar for pilots to work on their planes, and in 1988 added more hangars for aircraft storage.

Andy credited volunteers for helping raise funds for the airport.

“This place wouldn't be here if it wasn't for their help,” Andy said.

Jack Sallee died in a forklift accident in 1997, leaving Winnie to lead the airport's operations.

“She believed in it, and she wanted to carry on what they started together,” Andy said of his mother.

Winnie was president of the airport and instrumental in developing an airport overlay district around it to protect it for future development.

Winnie also oversaw the installation of a taxiway and made sure the runway was in shape for landing mail planes, commercial aircraft and even the occasional military plane.

Andy Sallee took over as president of the airport after his mother's death.

He flies with Allegiant Air as a commercial pilot shuttling passengers around Florida.

But he hopes to move to Bellingham to be closer to help grow the Sequim airport.

“It's a key asset to the community. And it's something that should continue to be useful for a long, long time,” Andy said.

Under his leadership, the airport has installed a 24-hour fuel station, installed a webcam to show updated conditions oand acquired ground for future expansion.

Andy sees new hangars, a terminal building, a paved main road to the airport and perhaps a cafe in its future.

“It's always been slow, small development,” he said. “That's how you make it grow in a way that keeps growing.”

For more on the airport, visit its website, www.sequimvalleyairport.com.

For information on the Olympic Peninsula Air Affaire, visit http://tinyurl.com/AirAffaire.



Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 30. 2013 7:44PM
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