By Deb Everts
Katy’s Fly-In restaurant was the place to be June 29 as guests were transported back to the 1950s at the Poodle Skirts Party.
As part of the Town of Great Valley’s Bicentennial activities, the party kicked-off the Fly-In at the Great Valley Airport held June 30 and July 1.
Entertained by Generations, an oldies singing group from Olean, many gals came donned in poodle skirts, bobby socks and saddle shoes while some of the tough-guys showed up as greasers. Some of the participants brought their antique and classic cars to the Cruise-In.
As one of the organizers, town historian Marilyn Siperek said they found the pilots for the Fly-In by advertising at all the Western New York airports, as well as other out-of-state airports that Paul Carmichael, a local airplane enthusiast with a passion for restoring vintage airplanes, had the occasion to visit. They also sought the assistance of a group of vintage airplane enthusiasts and published information on their aeromail (email) list.
Siperek said the idea for the Fly-In was hers. She thought the event was something her father, Neal Eddy, would have done if he were alive and well.
“He featured several events in the past, most notably the airshow featuring acrobatic maneuvering planes, and he hosted a stop for a plane replicating the flight of the Vin Fiz,” she recalled.
Siperek gave a short history of the airport saying the idea was conceived in 1985 when her father wanted to learn to fly after taking a flying lesson in Florida. She said he talked with Paul Carmichael who was looking for a place to fly his planes from and the plans for the airport were quickly executed.
“My dad bought a plane and began taking lessons from the Great Valley Airport. Shortly thereafter, he had his license,” she said. “Before you knew it, his son and two cousins had their pilot’s licenses. Then several locals joined the ranks of private pilots.”
With Carmichael’s connections to the flying community and my Eddy’s storytelling, Siperek said the Great Valley Airport became the place to go for lunch for Western New York pilots.
Carmichael, of Ellicottville, who organized the Fly-In is a former director of Career and Technical Education at Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES. A Certificated Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic, he specializes in WACO Aircraft restoration, and is also a Commercial Pilot SEL, SES, Instrument Rating Certificated Ground Instructor.
He was a 2012 EAA Oshkosh Bronze Lindy winner with Waco UPF-7 N20979. After his retirement, Carmichael founded Silver Cloud USA, LLC, in 2013, and now works full-time restoring antique airplanes
“I invited out-of-town pilots from as far away as Ohio,” he said. “The event was an opportunity for people to bring their older airplanes in and let people see and enjoy them.”
One plane was Carmichael’s unassembled 1941 WACO UPF-7 that he will soon be restoring. He said the plane was last flown in 1955 and it was used to train pilots for the Army Aircorp prior to and during World War II. It was also used for the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), a flight training program (1938-44) sponsored by the United States government.
Siperek said approximately 75 planes arrived and departed June 30. On July 1, the Veterans’ Wall of Honor was featured naming Great Valley’s veterans as well as active service people of all eras.
The next Town of Great Valley Bicentennial event is scheduled for Saturday, July 21 at 1 p.m. when “Old Home Family Day” will be held at the Great Valley Fire Company. A chicken barbecue will be offered, live music, games for kids, and fireworks; as well as costume, beard and mustache contests.
On Sunday, July 22, from 1–5 p.m., there will be another bicentennial event, “Farming: Then and Now” at the Snow Brook Farm, 5346 Snow Brook Road. Vintage farm equipment will be on display and people can do self-driving tours of the Willoughby area from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.