“Incredible!”was best description of our April 6-8 fly-in to Payson, Arizona, (KPAN) for a weekend of fun and air camping at the Payson Airport Campground.

The weather was absolutely beautiful as over 30 aircraft and nearly 70 people descended on Payson for the fly-in over two days.  The 24 spots on the air camping ramp were quickly filled, and aircraft were necessarily parked on both the transient ramp and also the based airplane ramp. The Desert Flyers, a flying club from Phoenix, came up for brunch and added another 10 airplanes to the already full ramps, so the airport was definitely buzzing with fun flyers on Saturday. Pilots wearing their hats from aviation organizations such as RAF, AOPA, EAA, AYA, and of course the APA, were mingling throughout the day. As the day-trippers headed back home in the late afternoon, the air campground remained completely full as 27 airplanes worth of air campers (around 40 people) pitched their tents for Saturday night and prepared for the Dutch oven pot-luck supper. There was no shortage of delicious Dutch oven recipes and side dishes. Following dinner we settled in around the campfire for an evening of fun and songs.

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Barry Dillie and his wife drove down from Young with his trusty guitar and repertoire of songs. Others joined in with their instruments, including mandolins, which was fun for all. As the stars grew brighter and the participants grew tired, one by one we retired to our tents, some to their hotels, to enjoy a good night’s rest. It is rumored that a few of our late celebrating pilots could be heard howling in the distance, “This is Arizona!”

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What makes this event very special is that it was all organized by pilot in training, James Nebrig, only 16 years of age. James is the son of pilots Ken and Lori Nebrig, of Prescott, Arizona. James already has his glider pilot license and is working on his private pilot certificate. We should mention that James is also responsible for the planning, fundraising, and construction of the beautiful picnic pavilion located in the Payson airport campground, a project he took on as an Eagle Scout at only 14 years old!

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With the weather forecast being updated to include strong winds by noon on Sunday, most pilots were packed up and on their way home around the state, and even as far away as South Dakota. By all accounts this was one of the most successful events we’ve had, and James is already planning a repeat for October, so stay tuned for more information in the APA and RAF newsletters and calendars!

Thank you James Nebrig for setting the pace for volunteerism in the Arizona’s aviation community!

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