August 28th 2022 will be the 50th year of the Mizpah Shrine Fly-in Breakfast at Bear Field airport. It is a fundraiser for the Shriners Children’s Hospitals begun by the Flying Shriners unit that was formed in 1958 by about 30 Fort Wayne Shrine members who were pilots. Some of the members actually flew children to the shrine hospitals in urgent situations such as burn victims to the Cincinnati Shriner burn hospital.
They held the first fly-in at the Arabian room restaurant in the Mizpah Shrine building on Berry St. but soon needed more room and in 1972 were granted use of the Northern Skyways hangar at Baer Field (currently part of the Air National Guard). The cooking equipment was either loaned or rented at that time, with I&M providing free power and many local companies donating supplies. The event grew to serving as many as 3,000 meals and in 1980 the Shrine purchased their own equipment and had custom round rotating griddles fabricated by a local Shriner. The equipment is still in use today and stored in large trailers over the winter. Entertainment has been provided by various Shrine units such as the Shrine Band, Chanters, Clowns, Bagpipers, and others. For many years the announcing was done by Bob Sievers of WOWO radio.
When the Air National Guard expanded, the event was moved to the Consolidated Airways hangar by the terminal with parking across the street at the old Kresge’s warehouse. Another move was necessitated in 2016 when the Consolidated hangar was razed for expansion of the airport terminal. The current location is hangar 2019 by the Aero Center. Nowadays around 1200 meals are served at the event. It is estimated over a half million dollars has been raised for the Shriner Children’s hospitals so far. This year’s event is August 28th 7am-1pm with a suggested donation of $7. Tickets available at the door.