12:13 PM

Squadron-Organized Open House Draws 600+ to Wis. Airport

Helicopters, airplanes, an F-16 simulator and EAA Young Eagle flights helped attract more than 600 visitors to the third annual Airport Open House – organized by the Wisconsin Wing’s La Crosse Composite Squadron – and 5K Run/Walk to La Crosse Regional Airport.

The event brings together airport tenants, aviation groups and public safety organizations to educate the public about aerospace and safety while serving as the squadron’s principal fundraiser.

“It’s really about partnerships in making this event a success. We have more than 10 different agencies and organizations here,” said Maj. Todd Mandel, La Crosse Composite commander.

Present at this year’s event were the Wisconsin State Patrol, Colgan Air Services, the La Crosse Fire Department, the Fire Department’s Smoke Safety House, the Minnesota-Wisconsin K-9 search and rescue team and the Freedom Honor Flight.

The open house features a pancake breakfast, run by the squadron, which raises funds for the unit. Another nonprofit stages a 5K race and a silent auction, with a portion of those proceeds going to benefit the La Crosse unit as well.

The open house has grown each year. In its first year the event attracted around 150 people. The 5K race featured 67 runners, a 300% increase from the first year.