Arlington Airport Appreciation Day perseveres through poor weather

Volunteer Collier Brereton, left, helps 4-year-old Robert Alvarez of Marysville steer his flight simulator during the May 5 Arlington Airport Appreciation Day. - Kirk Boxleitner
Volunteer Collier Brereton, left, helps 4-year-old Robert Alvarez of Marysville steer his flight simulator during the May 5 Arlington Airport Appreciation Day.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — In spite of a midday drizzle that temporarily shut down the day's flights, the Arlington Airport Appreciation Day on Saturday, May 5, still took an estimated 140 children up into the air.

"For many of them, it was their first airplane ride in a small aircraft," Arlington Municipal Airport Coordinator Tim Mensonides said. "I believe it was the largest attended Airport Appreciation Day to date."

While local pilots provided free airplane rides for children aged 8-17 through the EAA Young Eagles Program, 31 aircraft were on static display on the airport runway. Mensonides praised vendors for participating in greater numbers than in previous years.

Airlift Northwest flight nurse Tia Barrett and pilot "Lucky" Mertes returned for another year to explain the range of services they can provide to patients, including ventilation, defibrillation, suction, oxygen and an isolette stretcher, but they admitted that what attracted many children were Airlift Northwest's free goodie bags and the opportunity to push buttons in their helicopter.

"Kids like to fly around," Barrett said. "It's a fascinating experience, but while they've seen it on TV, it's not often that even adults can go up in smaller aircraft themselves."

"We show them what we're capable to doing for them, but we hope they never need us," Mertes said.

Kevin Joyce, who pilots Snohomish County's Search and Rescue helicopter, noted that many Airport Appreciation Day attendees were pleasantly surprised by their own capabilities and resources, with one exception.

"Some kids were disappointed that we didn't have rockets," Joyce laughed.

Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert agreed with Mensonides that the Airport Appreciation Day has continued to grow with each year, for which she thanked the participating pilots and Mensonides himself.

"Tim is a pilot, and he's been so enthusiastic about really reaching out to more businesses and venues," Tolbert said. "He brings a lot of excitement to it because he's so close to a kid himself," she laughed.

While 12-year-old Joshua Gaynor-Cote came all the way from Seattle to check out this year's Arlington Airport Appreciation Day, the Mosby family of Marysville just happened to be driving past when they noticed the helicopters on display and decided to get a closer look.

"Joshua wants to be a pilot," Chris Gaynor said of his son, who went up in a small aircraft before the rain came. "What we've both learned is the wide variety of different vocational options available in that field. What a great day it's been."

"You can't can't pass up a free ride in an aircraft," said Roy Mosby, whose kids are "airplane fanatics" in the words of mom Tiyanna.

For M.J. Williams, Roy and Tiyanna's 11-year-old son, the day marked his first time on such a flight.

"We went up pretty high," M.J. said. "I worried that we might crash when the plane started twitching."

M.J. nonetheless proudly brandished his certificate from the EAA Young Eagles Program, albeit while taking care to keep it protected from errant raindrops.

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