LARAMIE – If you have been diagnosed with having your head in the clouds, then free airplane rides during Laramie Airport Day may be just what the doctor ordered.

The annual Laramie Airport Day is coming Saturday, July 13, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Laramie Flying Club invites you to check out all of the great aviation opportunities our community has to offer at Cowboy Aviation at the Laramie Regional Airport.

Merle Raisbeck, president of the Laramie Flying Club, hosts of the event, has been a member since 1988 and became an instructor a year later. He said the Laramie Airport is one of the smaller airports in the country to have regularly scheduled airline service. The University of Wyoming utilizes the facility, and with the general aviation use, the airport creates local job opportunities and generates economic value in the community.

The group has come a long way since the initial event that consisted of club members washing the club plane.

“Several years ago, we had a BBQ and washed the club plane every year in July, just an opportunity to get together socially and do something useful. Then somebody suggested since we couldn’t get members to come to the BBQ, let’s invite the general public to come to wash the plane. The first year we tried that, somebody broke the antenna off of the plane.  The next year, we had Airport Day. We got lots of local pilots and some from Fort Collins to come to give airplane rides, weather permitting,” said Raisbeck.

Meet some great people, explore your local airport, view some great aircraft, and if you'd like, go for a ride in a small plane.

”We may get lucky and have a C-130 and an H-60 Helicopter on display,” courtesy of the Wyoming National Guard, Raisbeck said.

He said there will be many “static” displays from people who bring their home-built and manufactured aircraft, and the BBQ, rain or shine.

“We’ll do the BBQ indoors in one of the hangars. But there is a limit to what we can do with the weather regarding the free airplane rides,” said Raisbeck. He said the rides usually end around 2 p.m. if it gets too bumpy.

Laramie Flying Club member Jarin Scovil said it’s an event for the community to get out to the airport and get to know what’s happening at this great regional airport.

“You can see what else we do here. A lot of people come and go on Sky West flights, but not a whole lot of people come out and enjoy the general aviation side of things. The airport serves the community very well in a lot of ways. Come out and meet the great pilots, have a bite to eat, and explore what we’re doing.”

The 5th year of free airplane rides are available for community members, but you have to schedule a week early as the spots fill up quickly.

“It’s always a lot of fun getting up in the air and actually experience flight from the perspective of a small plane. It’s very different than sitting in an airliner,” Scovil said.

The pre-scheduling program started last year because in the past, many times there were more visitors than available pilots and aircraft.

“There were long wait times. Even though it is a great experience, it wasn’t all that enjoyable. We don’t have a final count for planes yet, but last year we had 8 planes, and this year, we will probably have more. As soon as we have the final count of pilots and planes, the link will be activated and we will open up our registration for scheduling. The information will be posted on our web page - LaramieFlyingClub.com - on the events page and click on the link that gets you to the Airport day information.”

He said anyone that is 7-years-old or older is eligible to fly. Younger children can’t really see out of the plane and are generally more susceptible to airplane sickness. The flight path heads south of Laramie goes back into town for a fly-over of War Memorial Stadium, then back around to the airport – about a 15-minute flight.

“People are always surprised to see how much water there is around Laramie. People think it’s so dry and there is nothing around here. It’s interesting to see the vast number of little lakes and ponds that we have around here. Plus, just seeing things from a different perspective.”

Scovil said if you miss the online pre-registration for free airplane rides, don’t despair.

“We always have people that aren’t able to make it out for some reason or decide at the last minute that they’d rather not go up in a small plane. We will take walk-ins. Just because we close registration down a couple of days early because we’re full, doesn’t mean there is no chance to fly. There may be some wait time, or later in the day, but there is the chance you could fly,” said Scovil.

The link to the schedule is LaramieFlyingClub.com, so you can bookmark it and be ready to snag your spot. Of course, free airplane rides are subject to the weather, just like everything else in Wyoming.

The free lunch begins at 11:30. For more information, check out the Laramie Flying Club’s website.

Raisbeck said that with today’s security regulations at airports, “this is the only chance you’re going to have to get up close and personal with aircraft and learn about aviation in Laramie.”

“We’d love to have as many people come out as we can have. We’re hoping to have some military aircraft. Fortunately, we don’t have any fire-fighting equipment here this year. The last couple of years, it’s been interesting for people to see, but it’s nice to not have our forests on fire! We have people coming from all over the region with small planes, business jets, and other types of small aircraft. It will be a great time,” said Scovil.

The event will be held at Cowboy Aviation, 555 N. General Brees Road at the Laramie Regional Airport, west of Laramie on state Route 130.