Arlington Fly-In takes off today

ARLINGTON — They decided the Fly-In couldn’t have a barnstorming plane exhibit without a barn.

Last fall, Arlington Fly-In director Barbara Tolbert told her crew of loyal and creative year-round volunteers that the nonprofit Fly-In couldn’t afford the $15,000 it would take to build a barn to sit along the runway during the new barnstormer exhibit.

The volunteers did it anyway.

During the late 1920s and ’30s, barnstormer stunt pilots flew throughout the states giving performances and selling airplane rides. A lot of people had their first flight experiences in these small planes. Out in the country throughout the summer, pilots would set up shop and operate from farmers’ fields for a day or two before moving on.

At the Fly-In, the volunteer-built barn is set to house vintage aviation memorabilia. Along with barnstormer planes, the Fly-In plans to host old cars from the Great Depression era, Tolbert said.

Nearly every year the Fly-In’s volunteer crew comes up with something special for the show, which is considered one of the top three aviation conventions of its kind in the nation and attracts thousands of people to Snohomish County. A couple of years ago, the crew built a replica World War II air traffic control tower, which now forms the centerpiece of the large military equipment exhibit at the Fly-In.

When volunteers Herb and Janie Brown offered up eight Douglas fir trees from their property near Lake Stevens for the lumber for the Fly-In’s barn, organizer Bruce Angell knew they could build it.

“When you work for a nonprofit, you have to be creative,” Angell said. “Especially when you’re in a recession and you have no budget.”

The group harvested the trees, cut them up with the use of a portable mill and dried the lumber in the Fly-In’s hangar at the airport.

The 20-by-40-foot, two-story barn is built in four sections so it can be stored. Its windows are from a former airport fire hall and the rusty roof from another former building at the airport.

People even donated and repaired a farm windmill for the display, Tolbert said.

“The passion and dedication of this group of volunteers is amazing,” she said.

Along with Bruce Angell and the Browns, the volunteer crew included Doug Angell, Dan Hemmrich, Ron Jacobson, Monique Howard, Dan Oliver, Greg Sykes, Shane Morgan, Gier Anderson, Ralph Frazier, Paul Grindall and Chris Covington.

The Arlington Fly-In is gaining in popularity among the general public, Tolbert said.

“It’s no longer an event just for pilots,” she said. “People like to come out with their kids and see planes you could otherwise see only in museums.”

An airshow is scheduled for noon today, along with many special events for kids.

At 2 p.m., 16-year-old Nicholas Rider of Monroe plans to talk about his books that chronicle the stories of war veterans.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427;

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