Kennebunkport pilot Karl Pepin,stands next to in his 1947 Stinson 108-1 at Wings 4 Wishes in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Kennebunkport pilot Karl Pepin,stands next to in his 1947 Stinson 108-1 at Wings 4 Wishes in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — All eyes were on the sky early Sunday afternoon in Old Orchard Beach as the first of about 15 planes made its way to the beach.

The thousands of people who showed up for the Wings 4 Wishes fly-in cheered and clapped as one by one, the planes flew in and made the sandy beach their landing strip.

The excitement was palpable, but no one was more excited than Chase Walker, the 15-year-old aviation enthusiast who organized the event in conjunction with local community group OOB365.

OOB365 member Israel Collins and Wings 4 Wishes organizer Chase Walker direct a plane on to the beach in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

OOB365 member Israel Collins and Wings 4 Wishes organizer Chase Walker direct a plane on to the beach in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

The fly-in was postponed from Saturday to Sunday due to weather, and though there were less planes than originally scheduled, the crowd of spectators was estimated to be more than 5,000. 

Walker said he was surprised with how many people showed up, considering the event had been postponed.

“I’m very pleased,” he said.

Wings 4 Wishes organizer Chase Walker directs a plane on to the beach in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Wings 4 Wishes organizer Chase Walker directs a plane on to the beach in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

One of OOB365’s missions is to bring people to town in the off-season, and the event seemed to accomplish this. 

 “Look at all the hotel rooms,” said OOB365 member Israel Collins, pointing to the many people standing on hotel balconies along the beach. “It’s the first weekend in October, and people are at the beach.”

After the planes landed, attendees were free to roam around and look at the planes and talk with the pilots.

The event was a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Maine, but also a celebration of the town’s aviation history. In 1927, Charles Lindburgh made an unexpected stop on the beach when the field he was scheduled to land at was fogged in. 

“I think it’s fabulous,” said Karl Pepin, a pilot from Kennebunkport who flew in on his 1947 Stinson 108-1. He said he was impressed that a young person could create an event that was not only fun, but also acknowledged the town’s history and raised funds for a good cause.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing to support,” he said. “He didn’t have to ask me twice.”

Pepin said the flat, long beach made a good landing strip.

“We all want to land on the beach, you know, but you just can’t legally. This was a great opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do since I got my license,” he said.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


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