The Wayne America Fly-in, formerly known as May Day STOL, will showcase National STOL, STOL Drag, music, food and more at the Wayne Municipal Airport from May 26-28. This year, the event has a new name, look and spirit, holding a greater focus on the Wayne community and all it has to offer.
WAF23 will host pilots in both the fields of STOL Drag and National STOL, where they measure the distances of takeoff and landing to see who has the shortest length. These two contests rarely happen during the same event, but they came together and brought in more sponsorships for Wayne, Travis Meyer, chairman of the Wayne Airport Authority, explained.
Over 50 competitors signed up to compete in this year’s events, with new participants adding their names to the list often.
Competitor check-in will start May 24 and 25 with a few different specialized sessions on STOL flight training.
Kevin Quinn, creator of STOL Drag, has headed the training for the last two years. Every pilot will need to sit through a certification class to receive the authorization to compete. If deemed not ready, the pilot will be disqualified before the competition starts. Usually, Quinn charges a $250 fee per pilot for the certification, however, he has decided to waive that fee for the WAF23 in hopes to foster safety over profit, Meyer said.
On Friday, May 26, the National STOL Opening Competition will kick off from 1 – 5 p.m. with a pilot meet and greet to follow.
At 6:30 p.m. the Paramotor Demo starts. In a paramotor demonstration, a person, strapped into a parachute-like wing with a motor attached to the back, will take off running before lifting off and soaring through the air. This paramotor group comes from Southeast Nebraska.
William, the son of Tom Defoe, the pilot who tragically died in a plane crash during the 2022 May Day STOL, will take part in this year’s paramotors demonstration. This past year, he went on to also obtain his private pilot’s license.
The day’s events will conclude with a bonfire and music from Hector Achondo.
Saturday, May 26 starts at 8 a.m. with an array of events. Breakfast will be offered from the UNO flying club and pilots will have STOL practice time until 11 a.m. The morning will also include a WAF23 classic car “Cruise-in,” which will give dash plaques to participants, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a Redbird Simulator from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Wayne Airport Authority purchased the Redbird Simulator to bring people to the airport and give them the experience of flying without ever having to leave the ground, Meyer said. The full motion simulator has around seven computer screens showing what the world would look like from high above.
From 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., there will also be a Careers in Aviation Panel, which Meyer said he feels especially passionate about. This will exhibit people from all different paths within aviation.
“There are so many careers in aviation outside of being a pilot,” Meyer said. “I am hoping students or parents of students who are interested in aviation will come and have their questions answered. They will get to know the necessary steps, the time, the cost and whatever else they wish to ask.”
Speakers include a pilot from Pierce who flew Air Force Two, which carries the Vice-President and other important dignitaries, an airline pilot from Spirit Airlines, two air traffic controllers from Sioux City and representatives from Duncan Aviation in Lincoln.
The National STOL Finals will occur from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a Powered Paramotor Demo and pilot meet and greet.
After the race, McFarlane Aviation and WAT will present “Under the Lights” at 6:30 p.m. and the National STOL and STOL Drag Awards Ceremonies will follow. A band known as ECKO will end the championship day.
Sunday, May 26, has a full schedule of events as well. The Redbird Simulator will be up and running again alongside cornhole tournaments, with over $1,500 worth of prizes. The final night ends with a bonfire and music from a local band, the Wayne County Troubadours.
“I have two measures of success for this event,” Meyer said. “One, that young people who have an interest in aviation can make connections and receive the support to pursue their careers. And two, that people come from across the country and see what an awesome community Wayne is. Many of them may end up coming back and bringing their factory or business with them.”
The Wayne America Fly In has many organizations working together to make it safe, fun and special, Meyer said. This cannot be done without community support of volunteers. Volunteers are needed to take tickets, sell T-shirts, park planes (with experience) and more. If interested, call Meyer or use the contact page at https://wayneamericaflyin.com/contact.