Celebrating the Inaugural Ralph Mirka Day at Salem Leckrone Airport

On May 18, 2024, Salem Leckrone Airport held the first ever Ralph Mirka Day, a special event honoring the legacy of Ralph Mirka, a dedicated philanthropist and aviation enthusiast. With perfect flying weather, the day was filled with excitement, learning, and community spirit.

A Day to Remember

Over 60 attendees enjoyed free airplane rides, experiencing the joy of flight from a unique perspective. The rides were provided by Rylan Crane, a 2022 graduate of Salem Community High School who began his aviation journey at our very own airport. Rylan, now a student in the flight school program at Southeast Missouri State, expressed his love for flying and his aspirations to join a major airline in the future. Assisting Rylan were two other dedicated pilots: Josh Dice, Chairman of the Airport Board, and Kevin Kegin, an FBO at Salem. Their combined efforts ensured that everyone who wanted a ride could experience the thrill of flight.

Families and individuals who attended the event had the opportunity to explore the world of aviation up close. Cameron Brown, who took a flight with his children, remarked on the thrill of experiencing the City of Salem from above, noting the unique sensations of flying in a smaller aircraft.

Honoring Ralph Mirka

Ralph Mirka, who passed away in March 2023, was a World War II Army veteran, a firefighter, a journeyman machinist, and a farmer. His philanthropic efforts, along with his late wife Margaret "Peggy" Mirka, left a lasting impact on the community. Their charitable trust continues to fund aviation scholarships, helping aspiring aviators pursue their dreams. The Airport Authority named this event in Ralph's honor to recognize his significant contributions and to inspire future generations of aviators.

Community and Future Events

The event, chaired by Airport Authority Chair Josh Dice, included various activities, a food truck, and ample opportunities for attendees to learn about aviation. The success and popularity of the inaugural Ralph Mirka Day have led to plans for making it a biannual event, with the next one scheduled for September.

For those interested in learning to fly, the Salem Airport offers lessons in a plane recently purchased by the authority. We encourage anyone with a passion for aviation to join us and explore the possibilities.

A Grateful Community

We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in making Ralph Mirka Day a success. From the dedicated staff and volunteers to the enthusiastic attendees, your support and enthusiasm were integral to the day's success. Special thanks to our pilots Rylan Crane, Josh Dice, and Kevin Kegin for providing unforgettable experiences for our guests and Airport Manager, Bob Tate for all the work coordinating the event. We look forward to welcoming you to our next event and continuing to celebrate the spirit of aviation together.

Stay tuned for more updates and upcoming events at Salem Leckrone Airport. Together, we can keep Ralph Mirka's legacy alive and inspire the next generation of aviators.

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View from Outside

View from Inside