Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Breakfast Club

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
09 Dec 2017 N21481 SDC (Sodus, NY) - B16 (Weedsport, NY) - SDC 1.1 1745.1

A Friday evening text message from Mike: "B16 in the morning, wheels up at 7:30"

It was my first invitation to join Mike, Lee, and the group of pilots that I have loosely -- and only to myself -- referred to as "The Breakfast Club", a group of Williamson Flying Club pilots who launch on weekend breakfast missions at the crack of dawn. Mike and Alan, both flying white and blue Aeronca Champs, form the nucleus of the group. Though many members of the group fly taildraggers, not all of them do. Regular participants include Lee in his Piper Colt, an honorary tube and rag "taildragger" that just happens to have a nose wheel; Ray in his Enstrom helicopter; and Denny in his Comanche. En route, the gaggle tends to throttle back to match the speed of its slowest member; Alan's Champ does 80 mph in cruise.

B16, Whitford's Airport, lies 27 nautical miles southeast of Sodus. Used to being left behind by the faster Bonanzas and Mooneys in the club, this morning presented the opposite conundrum. Mine was the fastest ship in the group by a significant margin. Rather than fly a direct course like the others, I set out eastbound along the Lake Ontario shoreline and turned south at Fair Haven for Whitford's, my course describing a massive right angle over the Lake Ontario watershed. Even after the scenic detour, I still beat the Colt and three Champs to Whitford's by a few minutes. After parking, I watched them enter the pattern in trail.

Warrior 481, Alan's Champ, Mike's Champ, Denny's Champ (he left the Comanche at home that morning), and Lee's Colt

Family-owned Whitford's Airport does not have a formal restaurant. Nevertheless, when I entered the building there, John was busily cooking eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, and pancakes on a large griddle. Pilots simply toss a donation onto the counter and order what they want. I was the only newcomer; John knew most of the other pilots by name. While there is an inclusive spirit at Whitford's, breakfast is not an advertised event. This is the kind of place that pilots learn about from other knowledgeable pilots. It is popular, though. Our contingent from Williamson-Sodus was joined by several others that included a group from Canandaigua and another large roving breakfast group from the Rochester area that I have encountered at other venues.

It was a beautiful morning to fly with the taildraggers and visit a genuine grass roots home to general aviation.


  1. I landed at Whitfords for the first time this summer. It was a quick pitstop to pick up a passenger on our way to Lake Placid. We weren't planning on having breakfast there, but it looked too good to pass up. Two of the Champs were there, and Ray even stopped by in his chopper. I will definitely be making more stops there next summer.

    1. Agreed - it's a cool place and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I had only been in there one other time before and the place was dead that day - absolutely nothing going on.