Begun in 1963 by John J. Nalbone, then manager at the Dunkirk Airport, the Fly-In Breakfast has become a community tradition. This year was the 50th time the annual event has been held. In 1973, the Rotary Club began organizing and serving the breakfast. The proceeds go to charities the Rotary supports.
Helped by weather termed “gorgeous” or “beautiful” by those attending, about 1,500 all-you-can-eat breakfasts of juice, sausage, pancakes, eggs, and coffee were served by the hardworking and well-organized group. Some Rotarians, such as Carol Oliveria, sold or collected tickets. Some such as Jerry Hall, Jim “Lou” Elias, Janet Dekoff and Ellen Luczkowiak staffed the serving line. Others, like Rick Johnson, took the heat by cooking the food.
Brooke D’Agostino, daughter of a Rotarian, cheerfully cleared tables and disposed of the remains in the trash.
Current president of Dunkirk Aviation Louis Nalbone, John’s son, said the event was a success again this year. He called the weather “wall-to-wall sunshine.”
“A lot of people showed up; it’s a true community event,” he said.
He has been attending these events since he was young. Louis began to log-in flying time when he was in high school and soloed at age 16. His brother John, Jr. and sister Linda (Nalbone) Liedke were present at today’s events, as were many other relatives.
Those in the area could see and hear many aircraft. Louis said 45 different aircraft participated this year, some antique.
Father and son Tim and Henry Dills of Mayville flew Mike Vinciguerra’s aircraft. Tim said they have been attending the event “for a long time.” He said the correct name of the type of plane was an amphibian because it could land on water or land. Henry was flying the craft and father and son turned the vehicle around once it landed. Henry said Louis gave him his practical test for flying.
Flight medic David Baker and Flight nurse Debby Weaver were near the Starflight helicopter, explaining about the craft as well as their jobs.
Weaver said it was a good idea for people to become acquainted with Starflight.
She said, “We don’t want it to be scary for people.”
Many parents and grandparents brought children to look at the aircraft. Mark Gugino and his daughter Savannah took an opportunity to take a close look at a small helicopter. Savannah peered into the window and touched the aircraft, having a real “hands-on” experience.
All in all, the event was safe and showed a great airport in action.
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