Kids take to the air for free at Arlington Airport event

ARLINGTON — Free airplane rides for kids are a mainstay at the annual Arlington Airport Appreciation Day.

This year’s celebration of the municipal airport is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday near the airport office at 18204 59th Ave. NE.

The purpose of the day is to showcase the role of the airport in the community and to introduce aviation to the next generation, said airport coordinator Tim Mensonides.

Young people ages 8 through 17, with parental permission, can take a free plane ride, thanks to the efforts of local pilots who are donating their time and resources, Mensonides said.

“If any of those kids who get a plane ride Saturday go on into aviation, they will remember that first ride here in Arlington for the rest of their lives,” Mensonides said. “One flight and you’re hooked. My parents are general aviation pilots, so I have been around flying all my life. It’s my passion.”

The day includes many activities for families, including tractor rides from Biringer Farms, a free lunch and toy assembly from Arlington Flight Services and airplane model painting at the state Department of Transportation and municipal airport office.

The Historic Flight Foundation’s B-25 Mitchell will be available for rides for a fee.

The Arlington police and fire departments plan to be on hand, as do the crews of Airlift Northwest and Snohomish County Search and Rescue.

A 5K and 10K “Rescue Run” around the airport’s trail starts at 8 a.m. It is a benefit for the search and rescue helicopter, that recently lost funding. The run is hosted by the Arlington Runners Club.

Arlington Municipal Airport, the former Naval Air Station Arlington, supports the economy, too, Mensonides said.

“It’s a great community day, but we also want people to know that the city’s airport is self-sustaining,” Mensonides said. “We have a huge industrial park, with companies that manufacture parts for Boeing and build experimental aircraft.”

A 2012 economic impact study prepared by the state transportation department figured that the airport supports 566 jobs with a combined labor force income of nearly $30 million.

Hundreds of other jobs that are indirectly supported by the airport are worth an additional $17 million, Mensonides said.

With sales and services, the airport’s businesses have a $144 million share in the city’s economy, and airport visitors spend an additional $2 million a year at the airport, he said.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Learn more

More information about Arlington Airport Appreciation Day is available at www.arlingtonwa.gov or by calling 360-403-3471.

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