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Twisp Airport Weekly Bonfire & BBQ

photo of Farmers State BankBob Stone, Bob Ulrich and Ross Darling are regulars at the Twisp Municipal Airport’s weekly Friday night bonfire and barbecue. -
photo by Kelly Huffman

How far will some people go in order to get out of the house on a Friday night?  For Chewelah residents Margo Sety and her pilot boyfriend Chris Ogden, the answer is about 111 air miles.

The first stop on their social calendar last Friday: the Twisp Municipal Airport, where a core group of regulars braved the spring chill for a weekly bonfire and barbecue. It was the second visit for the couple, who first flew Ogden’s 4-seater Cessna here in 2011, inspired by a mention of the gathering in a pilots’ magazine.

They were drawn back to the fire, says Sety, by the “friendly folks who are happy to sit and chat and feed us.”  After the Methow-style mixer at the airport, the couple was en route to the Twisp River Pub for music and dinner, and then on to a local hotel for the night.

The airport get-together happens “almost 52 weeks a year,” sub-zero temperatures aside, says regular Bob Stone. “We decided there’s no reason not to do it in
winter,” he shrugs. “Just wear more clothes.”

photo of Farmers State BankBuilt to last: a welded Caterpillar track makes a substantial fire ring at the Twisp airport. - photo by Kelly Huffman
The ritual grew out of occasional landing contests and friendly flour-bombing practice on the airport grounds, says veteran pilot and instructor Bob Hoffman. One thing led to another, and it wasn’t long before helicopter pilot Ross Darling had welded a bulldozer track into a fire ring. With the addition of a sturdy windbreak and a layer of gravel underfoot, “now it’s pretty classy,” says Hoffman.

On any given Friday evening, there are decades of aviation savvy wrapped up in the men and women chatting around Darling’s fire ring. With mountains for a backdrop and stars overhead, this is where a newly-licensed hobby pilot might rub shoulders with Vietnam-era gunship pilots, retired airline professionals, long-time instructors and other hobbyists.

But it’s a no-wings-required event, insists Stone. “You don’t have to be a pilot. It’s open to anyone who has flown, who wants to fly…or has seen a plane,” he nudges. Rest assured there’ll be plenty of conversation, burgers, beers and brownies to go around—even for the resolutely earthbound.


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