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Food and Flight

By Staff | Jul 2, 2008

An F-170 sits in front of the quonset hangars at the Estherville Airport in the 1940s. Photo submitted.

The Estherville Airport is holding its 60th Annual Flight Breakfast Friday, July 4. But it wasn’t always on Independence Day.

When it began, it was actually held closer to Labor Day. After inclement weather caused the breakfast to be canceled a few years in a row, the decision was made to move it to July 4, about 25-30 years ago.

Breakfast was originally served in the quonset hangars on the north side of the airport. Tarps were hung under the rafters to protect attendees from the birds that lived in the hangars.

The cooking began at midnight at the Cardinal Cafe, where the current Godfather’s is located. Food was hauled to the airport around 3 a.m.

At the first flight breakfast in 1948, 152 planes were flown in.

Above, Dave Kaltved shows a picture of Harry Coffie standing in front of a biplane at the airport. EDN photo by Samantha Heerdt

According to an article published in the Aug. 17, 1953 issue of the Estherville Daily News, the record for the most planes at the flight breakfast is 293. Nearly 2,000 guests were fed. At the record breakfast 3,600 pancakes were flipped, 200 pounds of bacon sizzled, 120 dozen eggs were scrambled, 100 gallons of coffee were sipped and 400 quarts of milk were guzzled.

Members of the Estherville Flying Club took care of refueling and directing planes where to park. In the 1960s and 70s there were 50-60 members in the flying club. Together they purchased two to three planes. The club disbanded in 1988.

This year’s flight breakfast will start at 7 a.m. The Northwest Iowa Jazz Band will perform at 9 a.m., and kid’s prizes will be awarded at 10:30 a.m.

The event is free to fly-in pilots, co-pilots and children under four. Tickets for fly-in passengers and children aged 4-11 are $3, and $6 for adults.

Below, a 1953 issue of Estherville Daily News shows some of the 293 planes that attended the sixth annual flight breakfast. The grass runways shown are no longer in existence.