Barstow Airport and EAA promote aviation

Have you heard of a hidden gem? Have you ever found one? A hidden gem is defined as something possessing a value or beauty that is not immediately apparent, which therefore has received far less recognition than it deserves. I’ve lived in Midland Country my whole life and I’ve only just discovered a hidden gem for myself in Barstow Airport. For those who have known of the wonderful programs and activities that this community area provides, I applaud you. For those like me who never knew all the wonders of this community gem, I invite you to learn more about your community airport. 

The Jack Barstow Municipal Airport is a general aviation airport located in the City of Midland. “This is truly the community's airport,” says Sarah Pagano, airport manager, “It is open to the community to use to learn and discover more about aviation.” Pagano says that the airport's mission is to, “Inspire, encourage, and support aviation.” Barstow airport is an important part of our community’s infrastructure, supporting medical flights and agriculture aircraft as well. 

The EAA chapter at Barstow offers flights for veterans.
While being home to over 40 aircraft hangers supporting nearly 20,000 operations (takeoffs and landings) each year, the Barstow airport has become known for their unique place in the Midland community. “This is for you,” Pagano says of the community spaces on the Barstow property. The Midland Community Aviation Discovery Area (MCADA) is a play space for kids of all ages to see, sit, and learn about aviation. In this MCADA area, which is open to the public, visitors are welcome to explore an aircraft, watch airplanes take off and land on one of the two runways at Barstow. In the summer, it is not uncommon to see community members using thepavilion in the MCADA area for parties and get togethers, or hanging out in the airport terminal for a visit with fellow aviation enthusiasts. 
A future pilot?
In addition to being the Airport Manager, Pagano is the President of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1093. Pagano says that the EAA’s mission is to, “share the spirit of aviation.” Through the chapter’s partnership with the Barstow airport, they are able to do that in a number of ways. The EAA chapter and its members assist the airport sponsored events that include a 5K along the airfield, an aviation Camp for 10th-12th graders, and a Flight Night program which is a collaboration with Midland Public Schools 3rd graders. The Flight Night for 3rd graders is set up in the MCADA area, where the students attend different learning stations to build their knowledge about aviation. The aviation camp is where Pagano credits her first introduction to aviation in 2001, and 22 years later she is working where she started her journey and is excited everyday to share her passion for aviation with others. 

Arian Perez is a student pilot who is working toward her pilot license with the goal to be a flight instructor. She is the Vice President and Publicity Chair of EAA Chapter 1093. When asked why Perez is so passionate about aviation and sharing her passion with others, she says, “Flying checks all the boxes, fun, growth, education, freedom, adventure, a little bit of danger, it's challenging, problem solving, and never the same.” Perez also says, through learning about aviation and attending the flight school, she “has met some great people.” 
The EAA is building a RV12 Kit airplane.
EAA Chapter 1093 focuses on education, anyone can join the chapter, you don’t have to be a pilot, just be someone who wants to learn more about aviation. Monthly meetings include expert speakers in the aviation field, and chapter members are currently working together to build an aircraft. They meet on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. They are working to build  a RV12 Kit Airplane. Perez says that, “Many of the pilots (she has met) have built their own aircraft.” 

With education being one of the main goals of the EAA chapter, a biannual Pancake Breakfast, which brings in around 700 community members, is served as a fundraiser for their scholarship program for future pilots. In addition to the scholarship program, the EAA Chapter also sponsors a Santa fly-in, a Trick-or-Treating event held on the airfield called “Props and Treats”, and flights for Veterans. The  pilots also volunteer their time for the Young Eagles Program. Young Eagles Days occurs on the  second Saturday of each month. The next session is this Saturday, March 11, from 9am-Noon.  This program was created with the sole mission to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation. These air flights are open to children age 8-17, to register for your child's free flight, visit

On the second Sunday of each month at 3pm, Pagano hosts ‘“Airport Storytime”. It’s geared toward toddlers and younger elementary students. Children who attend the monthly storytime will enjoy snacks and a craft while also hearing aviation stories. This monthly event is open to the public. 

The MCADA is a play space for children at Barstow Airport.
The flight school on site at Barstow airport is named Slipstream Aviation. This is a Part 61 flight school with 3 instructors educating on 4 aircrafts. Slipstream offers private license, commercial license, instrument reading and Flight Instructor Certification (CFI). Aviation as a career is growing, and Slipstream is passionate about helping anyone interested in aviation get started. Slipstream offers discovery flights, which are introductory lessons with an instructor. Perez says, “You don’t have to commit to flight training after the discovery flight, this could be a great gift for a friend or family member.” 
An aviation camp is held for 10th-12th graders at Barstow.
The Barstow airport has many things to offer community members of all ages, “You can walk in anytime, I don't think the community realizes how many great things we do here at the airport,” says Perez. 

The Jack Barstow Municipal Airport and EAA Chapter 1093 are located at 6603 Barstow Drive in Midland. The airport is accessed from Airport Road between Sturgeon and Eastman Roads. It borders the Midland County Fairgrounds. The airport is named for a Midland based pilot who learned about aviation from Orville Wright, one of the Wright brothers, American aviation pioneers.  To learn more about community events and offerings at Barstow, call (989) 835-3231 or check out their Facebook page. 

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Read more articles by Abby Keeley-Scherzer.

Abby Keeley-Scherzer is a Mid-Michigan native, proudly raising her two daughters in Midland, with her husband, Steve. Her degrees are in business administration, cosmetology management, and sociology. Among other great qualities, Abby is an Army veteran,  pageant queen, substitute teacher, and community volunteer.