The Marion Municipal Airport is not only a second home for aviation enthusiast but it is also a living, ongoing collector of history. The airport has seen many changes in aviation and in the local community. In addition to these changes, this aviation home has also created some of its own history and traditions to add to its collection.
Here at the Marion Municipal Airport there are several of these traditions. One of these traditions include gathering every morning to drink coffee rain or shine. Another includes gathering with old friends to share stories and laughter during some good ole weekend flying. However, there is one tradition that is well known by the local community and even by people from all corners of the country. This prominent tradition has been going down in the books for the past twenty-three years.
This Saturday, the airport and aviation admirers will celebrate the 24th annual Fly In Cruise In. If there is one person liable for all the success, dedication and passion for this event it is Ray Johnson. Ray Johnson is an avid flyer and shares a love for aviation much like others that come to the annual Fly In. Mr. Johnson has a particular interest in vintage aircraft and cars. He learned to fly in 1980 and has been doing it ever since then.
Ray’s story behind the Fly-In is quite interesting. It all happened many years ago in the Spring of 1991. Ray and his wife, Judy Johnson, were part of the of the Marion High School Band Boosters Program to support the band students including their daughter. After many discussions about fundraisers and different ideas on how to raise money, Mr. Johnson said it just hit him, “What about a Fly In Cruise In?” After Much collaboration, Ray Johnson and his friends Larry Wilson and Mike Vanlandingham turned the idea into a reality.
The first Fly In Cruise In that was held served 1,700 pancake breakfast. Weather permitting, Ray is expecting anywhere from five to six thousand people to attend this years Fly In. Having an event like this requires a massive crew. It simply cannot be done by one individual. For the past twenty-three years all of the hundreds of people who have worked are volunteers. This Fly In Cruise In is non-profit and all proceeds go to the Marion High School Band Program. It is a growing tradition that people from all over country come take a part of.
This Fly In Cruise In is far more than a tradition. Come Saturday it will be twenty-four years of passion and love for general aviation. It’s a day that everyone looks forward to thanks to the help of people like Ray Johnson, Larry Wilson, old friend Mike Vanlandingham, Dr. Arndt Mueller and all of the Marion Airport Staff.
If you are reading this article then we hope to see you Saturday for a day of classic planes, cars and tractors. If you are seeking more information or interested in volunteering for the Fly In click on the link below and check us out! Hope to see you all there!