The planes landed and taxied one by one to the middle of the airport tarmac. The sun was making its way into the morning sky bathing the iron birds in golden light. Soon the airport would be filled with people hungry for pancakes and craving a highflying adrenaline rush. The Wadena Pilots Association hosted its 13th annual Wings & Wheels Over Wadena event. The entire day is devoted to aviation education, plane rides, and a variety of kids activities. This event and others organized by the association are designed to spread aviation awareness.

It was a great day for flying. The pilots and people in attendance lucked out with a blue skies and manageable wind. President of the Wadena Pilot's Association, Dano Ostrander was making his rounds welcoming pilots and guests. The seasoned pilot was in good spirits and excited to get people in the air. His favorite part of the event is definitely the plane rides and the look of exhilaration of peoples faces when they touch down.

The hangar was filled with people enjoying an all you can eat pancake breakfast organized by The Wadena Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, a car show was going on near the hangar. EMS vehicles were on display and a raffle underscored the morning activities. Food vendors, RC planes, and games, there was truly something for everyone.

Steve Young, a seasoned pilot and volunteer, arrived at Wadena Airport to assist with the days festivities. The day had four pilots taking people on rides but he was at standing by just in case the line got a little too long. Young has been flying for years and owns a 1973 Bellanca Super Viking. He split away from the group to take the aircraft on a little spin.

The Super Viking is a 300 horsepower small passenger plane with a constant speed propeller. After pulling the plane out of the storage hangar, the pilot entered the craft. The cozy interior was dominated by instruments, gauges, and aviation equipment. Preparation for flying a plane is paramount, Young went down a checklist making sure the planes electronics and equipment were in order. The plane traveled down the airstrip and readied for flight. Minutes later it roared down the narrow lane and sprung into the air.

While in the air the sound of air cutting through propeller polluted the interior. Communication was only possible with the use of a headset. The Super Viking soared over Wadena, farms and forests appeared tiny through the slightly tinted cockpit windows. Young explained that because of the numerous planes in the air he had to be on high alert to ensure a safe flight. The plane returned to the airport and touched down smoothly before finding its place amongst the many planes. "The freedom of flight is fascinating to me," said Young after dismounting his plane. Young loves flying because even though there are rules in flight it's nothing compared to a motor vehicle on a roadway, up there, the wide open sky is devoid of distractions and obstacles.

Wings & Wheels Over Wadena is an opportunity to educate the public about aviation and safety. The event is quite expensive to operate, any money gained goes back into the organization and is then given back to the community in the form of scholarships. For more information about the Wadena Pilots Association call Dano Ostrander at 218-282-6623 or email him at