On any given day, those flying into LaGrange Callaway Airport to refuel on trips might include statesmen, celebrities or, like last week, members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Nine jets manned by members of the Canadian Air Force 431 Demonstration Squadron were headed from Daytona Beach, Fla., back to Canada on Oct. 16 when they stopped to refuel at the local airport. The variety of visitors that fly in and out of LaGrange “never ceases to amaze,” said Dodd Wynne, manager of LaGrange-Callaway Airport.
“The Snowbird Air Demonstration Squadron is based at the Canadian Air Force in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in Canada,” Wynne said. “A total of nine Snowbirds flew in, three waves of three, stopping for fuel after performing an air show in Daytona Beach, en route back to Moose Jaw.”
The Snowbirds perform around 60 air shows each year throughout North America, Wynne said, adding that interesting fly-ins often serve as history, civics or aviation lessons for the airport staff.
On the same day the Snowbirds flew through, the Metlife blimp departed after it and its crew had stayed overnight in LaGrange on their way to an event in South Carolina.
“There was about a 20-man crew that managed the blimp and equipment,” Wynne said. “This isn’t the first time they have stayed here. We have also had the Goodyear blimp stay when passing through.
“They enjoy staying here because there is plenty of room and we have a large area that is out of the way of the primary runway where they can set up. We make it easy for them to gain access to the area, allowing them to come and go as they need, and we assist in securing accommodations they may need while in town.”
In August, 14 Army black hawk helicopters en route to Texas landed at LaGrange-Callaway Airport for a fuel stop.
“They said they enjoy stopping in at smaller airports along their route and contributing to the local communities when they can,” Wynne said. “The flight crews were very friendly and grateful we were able to serve their needs so quickly.”
Their total stay at the airport lasted about an hour, but “the memories made by airport employees who served them will last a lifetime,” Wynne said.
Such is life at the local airport, according to Wynne, who said the staff has learned to expect the unexpected on any given day, like about two months ago when U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss flew in, unannounced, to meet with representatives of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.
“They took him to the Kia plant for a tour of the facility,” Wynne said.
Within hours, Chambliss and his entourage had returned to the airport, en route back to Atlanta.