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Phil Olson Memorial Fly-In May 27 to 28

Formed in 2020 by local aviators and aviation enthusiasts, the Headwaters Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1657, Inc., is hosting its first major event this week in Three Forks.

The first annual Phil Olson Memorial Fly-In and Camp-Out is scheduled for May 27 and 28 at the Pogreba Field Airport.

According to President and Board Chair Thomas Willis, the local chapter was founded in November of 2020 by ten charter EAA members.

“The vision of the Charter members has been to serve the Gallatin Valley and surrounding areas with aviation education and recreation opportunities. To that end, we have, as a group, sought and obtained an Aircraft Hangar home of our own. And now the Chapter Leadership team has organized our growing chapter, which is now numbering more than 50 folks, to provide a fun aviation experience for the entire community,” Willis said.

One of the charter members was Phil Olson of Manhattan, who passed away in the spring of 2021.

Willis said Olson was an avid aircraft pilot and loved maintaining his own aircraft.

“He was a retired business owner in Manhattan, a retired cattle rancher, and a former Gallatin County Commissioner as well as an active Three Forks Airport Advisory Board member at the time of his passing. To say the least, Phil made aviation fun and attractive to a significant number of people over his lifetime and won numerous awards for his efforts,” said Willis. “The Chapter Leadership has recognized Phil’s impact on the community by naming the chapter’s first big event, with an Annual Memorial to Phil. This year, being the first year of the Annual event, will feature a dedication of the event itself with Phil’s family and one of the Olson’s’ beautiful aircraft, a Red, White and Blue 1949 Navion.”

Willis and his wife Madeline have now co-founded two EAA chapters, the first in Spirit Lake, Idaho, which also has a memorial fly-in yearly.

“It has become a ‘destination event’ for Aviators and Aviation Enthusiasts in the Northwest. Given the unanimous nature of the Headwaters Chapter membership, I would say that they are all very excited about this event and by the fact that it will be an annual event which is destined to grow and bring revenue to the City of Three Forks in the process,” Willis said.

This week’s fly-in will start on Friday with the arrival of pilots and aircraft at 9 a.m. Underwing and R.V. (primitive) camping setup will also begin at 9 a.m.

A BBQ Burgers and Brats social will take place at 6 p.m. in Hangar 22, and Aerial Firefighting Aircraft Arrival (Static Display) at 7 p.m.

The evening will conclude with two movies, the first “Planes, Fire & Rescue at 7:30, and will be followed after an intermission by “Always.”

The events on May 28 will begin at 6 a.m. with a Montana Wake Up Call and an American Legion Flag Raising and Reveille at 7 a.m. A pancake breakfast is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. with a Headset Raffle announced every 15 minutes until 9 a.m.

The Phil Olson, Fly-In Dedication Ceremony, is scheduled for 9 a.m., and a spot landing event will follow at 10 a.m.

Willis said the public is more than welcome to join in at the fly-in and is also invited to join the local EAA Chapter.