The skies of the Kenai Peninsula will be busier than usual this weekend. The 19th annual Kenai Peninsula Air Fair and Fun Flight takes place on Saturday, with two separate events being held at the Soldotna and Kenai airports. Mary Bondurant, Kenai Airport Manager, has been involved with the Air Fair since its inception.
“It started out as a bunch of pilots in the civil air patrol getting together to dust the wings off their planes,” Bondurant said. “Now it’s an all-day event open to the public. It’s great to see how much it’s grown over the years.”
The fair will start at 8 a.m. in Soldotna at the MARC hangar with a fundraising breakfast and static displays from the Experimental Aircraft Association. During the breakfast, pilots will be able to register for the Air Fair’s main event: the Poker Run.
Pilots who participate in the Poker Run will have to fly to at least five of the eight airports on the peninsula, pick up a ticket from each location, then return to Kenai and exchange their tickets for playing cards that are used as a poker hand. The pilot with the best hand at the end of the day will have first pick from a number of prizes donated by local businesses. Prizes include two round-trip tickets to Anchorage from Grant Aviation, a $100 gift card to Spenard Builders Supply and a $200 fuel gift certificate from Crowley Petroleum. The participating airports are in Homer, Kasilof, Kalifornsky Meadows, Kenai, Ninilchik, Quartz Creek, Seward and Soldotna.
Pilots can start the run and pick up tickets from any of the 8 airports, but must register in Kenai and end their flight in Kenai to be eligible for the prizes. Registration is $40 the day of the Air Fair and includes a souvenir T-shirt as well as breakfast and lunch during the event.
At noon the festivities will move over to the Kenai Airport for a barbecue and a military appreciation ceremony. As pilots fly out and return from their Poker Run excursions around the peninsula, Air Fair visitors can enjoy a performance from the 9th Army band or take a ride in a historic aircraft with the Commemorative Air Force, with the day ending at 3 p.m.
Military and private aircraft will be on display as well, including a World War II-era BT-13 Valiant built in 1942. All pilots are welcome to bring their aircraft to display, but Bondurant recommended calling her at 907-283-7951 before arriving to confirm that there is enough space.