SEQUIM — The fun flies and drives in for another year to the Olympic Peninsula Air Affaire and Sequim Valley Fly-In.
Organizers plan for a full day of festivities on Saturday at Sequim Valley Airport, 468 Dorothy Hunt Lane, with airplane, tethered balloon and helicopter rides along with cars and trucks and remote control planes.
Entry costs $10 per carload with additional fees for various rides from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Emily Westcott, co-organizer/founder, said last year’s event saw at least 2,500 attendees.
“It’s just a fun activity for the community, and it promotes aviation,” she said on the Air Affaire’s continued appeal.
Captain Crystal Stout, with the nonprofit Dream Catcher Balloon program, said the Air Affaire also highlights the importance of the airport.
“It’s a vital part of the whole area, and [the Air Affaire] showcases it,” she said. “All kinds of people use it. The Coast Guard uses it. Life Flight uses it. It’s really important.”
Andy Sallee, the airport’s manager and president, listed the airport for sale in 2020 along with his wife and 26 other shareholders as he looks to retire. His family founded the airport 35-plus years ago.
The Air Affaire started in 2013 as a joint celebration for the City of Sequim’s centennial and the airport’s 30th anniversary.
For Saturday, Westcott anticipates about 50 airplanes flying in for the event, and about 50 vehicles registering for the car show. R/C airplane pilots return to fly for spectators with donations accepted to support Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County.
Live music, food and vendors will be available throughout the event.
Wing walkers Mike and Marilyn Mason of The West Coast Spin Doctors return, and plane formation fly-bys are anticipated, too, Westcott said.
Both pilot Keith Kossuth with his 1929 Travel Air Plane and Seattle Air Taxi’s helicopter offer rides (fees apply).
Stout plans to offer hot air balloon tethered rides in her Morning Star Balloon Co. basket. The $25 fee per person helps the nonprofit offer tethered rides to veterans, senior citizens and mobility-impaired individuals.
“It’s ballooning for all,” she said of the Dream Catcher Balloon Program. “It has blossomed over and over.”
As she focuses more on expanding the nonprofit, the Air Affaire is a last hurrah for the Morning Star balloon in Sequim. She sold the balloon to a Spokane couple with its last event slated for Peninsula College in October.
“We’re no longer doing rides (across the area as) there are too many buildings, so the landing space is going away,” Stout said.
“There’s a lot of growth in the area, but we’ve got other things we can do with balloons.”
Tethered basket rides begin in the Morning Star balloon at 9 a.m. and continue through the day, depending on weather.
Once the balloon is done, Stout will bring out another to place on its side so people can play inside with beach balls.
As for Dream Catcher, Stout and her team went to four states — Kansas, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming — to give rides to an array of people, including a 100-year-old woman and a 38-year-old man with cerebral palsy.
Between trips, the Dream Catcher balloon can be spotted on a tether at the airport on weekends. For more information, visit dreamcatcherballoon.org.
For more information about Air Affaire, see olympicpeninsulaairaffaire.com.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at email@example.com.