By Tony Parra
This year the Portales Air Expo will no longer be known as an Expo, but rather the Portales Fly-in and it will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Portales Municipal Airport.
Ray Pallares, an operation specialist for the Portales Municipal Airport, said the airport doesn’t have permission to do as many of the events and couldn’t get some of the coordinators for events such as the rocket launch. Pallares said the Fly-in show will be free to the public.
Pallares said there will be a spot landing in which airplanes will land on designated targets and the planes which land the closest will win a $60 prize. He said the second place finisher receives a $50 prize.
The spot landing event will be followed by the flour bombing. These bombs are commonly flour in a paper lunch bag taped closed. The pilot stays in the airport traffic pattern and overflies the runway, according to the Ninety Nines flying fun Web site. Pallares said there will be a 30’ by 30’ square with a red target in the middle. The pilots who drop the flour bags closest will win prizes: the prizes are $60 for first place and $50 for second place.
Last year’s Portales Air Expo was canceled because of high winds. This year the forecast calls for no rain and winds from five to 10 miles per hour — not enough to cancel the flight show.
Last year, the Portales Air Expo took place in mid-September for scheduling preferences. Pallares said he preferred to have it in late September/early October because of cooler weather.
This year the air show will have to compete with the Portales Fire and Injury Reduction Safety Training program which will take place from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday at the Memorial Building. The air show will also take place on the same weekend the Eastern New Mexico University homecoming takes place. There will be an ENMU alumni breakfast on Saturday morning, followed by the parade. There is also a football game at 2 p.m. on Saturday between the ENMU Greyhounds and West Texas A&M at Greyhound Stadium.
Farrell Odom is one of the Golden Eagles, a group of retired pilots, who will be greeting the pilots who come in for the Fly-in. Odom said he hopes to see about 40 pilots who have been invited to attend the Fly-in.
“We’ve never given up a love for it,” the 77-year-old Odom said. “It’s going to be a great weekend. People can come watch a free show and enjoy the ENMU homecoming events, too. They can watch the Fly-in and enjoy the afternoon football game.”
Odom said the Golden Eagles’ members consist of retired pilots and he said there are about 17 members from Portales, Clovis and West Texas. Odom said in 2002 there were four World War II pilots from the area honored.
“I was a pilot when you had to flip the propeller by hand to get the airplane started,” Odom said. “We’ve all got some wild and crazy stories from our days flying. It will give us a chance to talk about those times and visit with each other.”