Will fly for peaches

Published 2:07 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2021

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The cloudless skies call recreational pilots to come and soar.

Answering this call is better when there is a destination at the end of the flight, instead of just a quick flight around the neighborhood.

Recreational pilots are often looking for a good place to land with an airport and something to do before heading back home.

“The pilots, we are always kidding about we want to get the $100 cheeseburger because it usually takes about $100 in fuel,” pilot Tim Ramsey of Sarahland, Alabama said.

For him, Chilton County is a frequent stop.

He enjoys local barbecue, the iconic peaches and, on a recent trip, breakfast at Whataburger.

“This is a great place to come because you can come and land, your fuel is right here, Ken (Gilliland of B&G Flying Service) is always nice to deal with, and he lets you use the car. You can eat and go back home,” Ramsey said.  “This is just a great place to come eat.”

Ramsey first flew into the Chilton County Airport in 1988 when he was training with certified flight instructor Charlie Brush. He said he liked the area, and his mom lives in Calera, making it a good place to come back.

Ken Gilliland of B&G Flying Service at the Chilton County Airport does the regularly required maintenance on Ramsey’s planes.

His most recent trip was to get the oil changed on his plane, but he drove one of the courtesy cars into Clanton.

“I have been to Peach Park several times,” Ramsey said. “I’ve never had a bad peach from there.”

When in season, he usually buys a basket of peaches and takes them home. His favorite way to eat a Chilton County peach is “to grab it and eat it just like an apple.”

“Every time we see my mom we always go back by there (Peach Park) and bring peaches home, every time,” Ramsey said.

During the height of peach season, there will be 20 to 30 recreational flights into Clanton interested in peaches, Gilliland said.

Some will call ahead of time to make sure the harvest has started coming in before flying over.

B&G has two courtesy cars that are in high demand during this season.

“There is a family that will come, and they will go to Peach Park to get the peach ice cream, and there is a sandwich over there that everybody likes,” Gilliland said.

In the past, military helicopter pilots have landed for fuel on training flights and made a trip to Whatburger while they were here.

Gilliland said other pilots have also enjoyed going to Hickory Chip and Todd’s Produce.