Fly Days at Gillespie Field Cafe, a great place to land

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With the height of summer bringing us all a full blast of heat, the last place people think about going to chill is El Cajon. Yet on Fly Days, the first Friday of every month, people flock to the action at Gillespie Field Café. The live music, good eats and hanging out near the hangars keep regulars and visitors coming back for more.

On Friday, nearly 200 people with more arriving through the end of the event filled the patio and spilled out onto the tables and chairs on the tarmac. 

With the height of summer bringing us all a full blast of heat, the last place people think about going to chill is El Cajon. Yet on Fly Days, the first Friday of every month, people flock to the action at Gillespie Field Café. The live music, good eats and hanging out near the hangars keep regulars and visitors coming back for more.

On Friday, nearly 200 people with more arriving through the end of the event filled the patio and spilled out onto the tables and chairs on the tarmac. 

Peter Oliver, co-owner with this wife Roxanne of the café, welcomed everyone.

“It’s a wonderful way to bring people of so many interests together, from aviation to dance to music,” he said. “We thank Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force for partnering with us on this.”

The Lance Dieckmann Band struck up at 4:30 p.m. sharp. Dieckmann played the blues and classic rock like no other with his harmonica. Band member Phil Diiorio played his guitar and sang oh-so-smooth, while drummer Becky Russell kept things heated up. Bob Prater strummed along on his bass guitar.

The menu for Fly Days featured some stellar items, everything from Bacon and Blues Sliders to Fish Tacos to a Summer Salad of fresh greens, feta cheese, walnuts and strawberries.

Regular visitors to Fly Days, Michael and Susan Shore ordered the fish and sweet potato fries. They sat with several musician friends. The Shores had first come to Fly Days by invitation of a musician friend. 

“I have since met many other musicians here. Plus, the music is outstanding,” said Michael Shore.

Café co-owners Peter and Roxanne Oliver said the Fly Days have been a smash-hit since its debut three years ago.

“We just always have a lot of fun,” said Roxanne Oliver, as she carried more chairs out to the patio.

“And the bands that we have like playing at this event because the people actually listen to them. They all have such a following,” said Peter Oliver.

Out on the patio and on the tarmac, little tykes got up and grooved along with adults who towered above them. A virtual parade wound around the café and out on the tarmac when the band played a zydeco tune to celebrate the birthday of Al Gardner, one of the audience members who was president of the Bon Temp Social Club.

For aviation buffs, a mighty TBM Avenger sat out on the tarmac next to the café, enticing people to take a look inside.

Kathleen Devlin, a pilot with the Commemorative Air Force, was on hand to talk with people.

“I like the idea that everyone can come out and see what we have here. It makes for a good Friday night,” she said.

But the real attraction with the airplanes took off with tricycle planes for the young set. Dustin and Whitney Robbins watched their daughter Sadie, 4, and son Liam, 2 pedal the planes.

“It’s the music that keeps us coming back,” said Whitney Robbins. “And it’s really rad that we can be so up close to the planes.”

Jodi Free, a co-organizer for East County Aviation Meet up, stakes out her spot regularly inside the café, so she can hear people talk above the music.

“I come here every Fly Day. It’s like a family feeling here, a reunion with people every month,” Free said.

The next Fly Day is set for Sept. 5, at 4:30 p.m. The Gillespie Field Café is located at 2015 N. Marshall Avenue in the Gillespie Field Airport. For more information, go to www.gillespiecafe.com.

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