Southern Illinois Airport to host large fly-in event - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois Airport to host large fly-in event

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CARBONDALE, Ill. --  Organizers are preparing for hundreds of planes and thousands of people to flock to the Southern Illinois Airport in Jackson county this weekend. 

Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) will join with SIU Aviation for a major fly-in event at the airport. 

"It's a free event. People can come look around, get up close to aircrafts, maybe get in a couple aircrafts and see what its like to be a pilot," said Chris Eads, AOPA Senior Director of Outreach and Events.  

Hundreds of pilots from all over the U.S. will descend on the SI Airport for one of the largest fly-ins ever to stop in Carbondale. The AOPA fly-in is expected to draw thousands and organizers like Chris Eads say that impressive crowd will be visiting local businesses.

"We anticipate roughly half a million dollars or more of direct economic benefit to the community, hotel rooms and rental cars, and restaurants," said Eads. 

That's why Jordan Wren with Carbondale Tourism is asking for all hands on deck. He's looking for volunteers to help set up tents, park cars, and make visitors feel welcome. 

"We have the opportunity to captivate these pilots, who have by chance, flown over us in the past but now we have them here in Carbondale," said Wren. 

Eads explains the event draws a big crowd because more than 50 unique aircraft will be on display and the pilots may even let you climb inside.

If you plan on visiting, you should be aware of nearby road construction with the closure of Airport Road. 

Eads says your GPS will get you close, "Follow the GPS until you start seeing all the detour signs. We will have the big orange highway digital signs to guide you in," said Eads. 

Eads hopes the fly-in will spark interest in the aviation industry and also showcase what SIU has to offer. 

"With a pilot shortage going on in America, it's a great career opportunity for young people to consider and Southern Illinois University has a great flight program. So we are hoping to highlight all of that to the local community," said Eads. 

It all begins Friday morning and continues through Saturday afternoon. 

Free seminars will take place Saturday for pilots or those interested in becoming a pilot.

For more information or to volunteer, please click here.

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