Award winning planes at fly-in

Dave Smith’s two award-winning planes. The 1960 Cessna 175 (left) that was fully customized and modified won at Oshkosh in 2013, and the 1938 Beechcraft Staggerwing (right) won last weekend in its division in Oshkosh.  Times photo by Tyler Ohmann

Dave Smith’s two award-winning planes. The 1960 Cessna 175 (left) that was fully customized and modified won at Oshkosh in 2013, and the 1938 Beechcraft Staggerwing (right) won last weekend in its division in Oshkosh.
Times photo by Tyler Ohmann

Fresh off his second consecutive year of winning at one of the largest airplane events in the country last weekend, Dave Smith will bring out his two award-winning planes this Sunday for the annual Milaca Airport Fly-in Breakfast.

Joining Smith’s planes will be other unique planes that claim residence in Milaca and planes from all over the area.

According to Smith, Milaca’s fly-in is one of the best-attended in the area.

“For a grass strip in the middle of nowhere, we do well,” Smith said. “There are a lot of people out here, and those who fly love to come because it’s beautiful with all the scenery and trees.”

He said that Greg Herrick from Anoka County will attend this Sunday, and Smith said he usually brings in some unique planes.

However, Smith has two unique planes of his own — the two that won the past couple of years at the EAA AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which is one of the biggest airplane events in the country.

“If you want to go get anything for airplanes, or see any kind of airplane, you go to Oshkosh,” Smith said. “It’s all there, and if you’re competing, it’s the toughest competition because they come from all over the world to go there.”

In 2013, Smith’s completely customized and modified 1960 Cessna 175 took first out of hundreds of planes in a custom division. Just last weekend his newest project, a 1938 Beechcraft Staggerwing, won an antique class called the “Bronze Age” of more than a hundred. He said that the Beechcraft, which is a biplane, is really a unique plane. Smith said that it is the lone survivor of a style of plane ordered by Indian National Airways.

Smith began restoring planes about 25 years ago because it was the only way that he could afford a plane.

“Then it turned into a hobby; I’d buy them, restore them and resell them,” Smith said. “Lately it’s been more on the ‘as long as I’m doing this, I’m going to show them off and see how I can do,’ and it’s a challenge.”

Smith is in the construction business, so he said he has a lot of free time in the winter, and this is a good way to supplement his income and include something he enjoys doing.

As for this weekend’s fly-in, he is really looking forward to showing off his planes.

“You do what you can to get your airplane and your hangar looking nice, and help out in different aspects,” Smith said about the fly-in.

He said that the fly-in has become second nature for the tenants at Milaca airport and that it really is a great event that goes well.

“It’s gotten to the point where this happens every year, and everybody knows their job, and it’s fairly simple now,” Smith said. “The ones who have the work is the Legion, who have the breakfast, and Ken Muller has always taken the bull by the horns.”

Muller is the chairman of the airport board, and Smith is a board member.

The Milaca Fly-in breakfast begins at 7 a.m. and lasts until noon on Sunday at the Milaca Municipal Airport.

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