My wife and I have always enjoyed flying with our two sons, usually on journeys that involve food. But the airborne outings have been getting shorter since the boys reached their teens. Now, we occasionally hear protests about “killing the whole day” in the airplane.
Rather than lecture them about how fortunate they are to experience the wonders of general aviation, I have shifted our focus to breakfast. Call it the $100 omelet. The ideal game plan has us getting to the airport early enough to be wheels up between 7 and 7:30 a.m. That way we can fly a two-hour round trip, enjoy a relaxed meal, and be home before noon.
While the kids don’t love the wake-up call at dawn, they don’t complain as long as they wind up well-fed and with the afternoon to themselves. I understand—they have plans that do not include me and their mother. I also enjoy this schedule because the morning air is usually smooth and calm, and in the summer, density altitude favors early departures. It all works out.
The following airport restaurants have breakfast menus likely to convince even reluctant passengers to rise early and get onboard.
Tin Goose Diner
Erie-Ottawa International Airport (KPCW), Port Clinton, Ohio
Sharing the affectionate nickname of the famous Ford Trimotor transport plane, this diner is also an authentic relic, built by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1951. It is part of the airport’s Liberty Aviation Museum, where you can see a Trimotor being restored. Let’s not forget the menu, which includes the “B-25”—two buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy and potatoes—“fly over omelets,” and much more.
Donna’s Runway Cafe
Blairstown Airport (1N7), Blairstown, New Jersey
This was our first flying destination as a family. Back then, the boys would assume the roles of their favorite Star Wars characters, usually Jedi knights or clone troopers. My rather generic call sign was “Clone Pilot.” There is plenty of room to park and you can watch gliders being towed aloft while you eat. The Runway Cafe serves eggs just about any way you can imagine: over easy, omelets, sandwiches, and wraps. The pancakes are also delicious, and our younger son still recalls that his stack was embossed with an airplane design.
Hangar B Eatery
Chatham Municipal Airport (KCQX), Chatham, Massachusetts
Open Wednesday through Sunday, this Cape Cod classic recently resumed indoor dining and has a mouthwatering menu that includes lemon ricotta pancakes, croissant breakfast sandwich, potato buttermilk doughnuts, and a sweet potato and beet combo called red flannel hash. The airport is also home to Stick’N Rudder Aero Tours, which offers sightseeing flights in a Waco YMF-5 biplane.
Wings Airport Cafe
Brainerd Lake Regional Airport (KBRD), Brainerd, Minnesota
Breakfast is available all day here and the menu is diverse. Buttermilk pancakes, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, and oatmeal are on the list. So are beef fritters, corned beef hash, and manoomin porridge. They also offer catering services to private jet operators. Work on the airport began in 1945 and the first commercial flights began in 1948 in a Lockheed 10A Electra. Delta operates passenger service there today.
Red Baron Restaurant
Dalhart Municipal Airport (KDHT), Dalhart, Texas
Located near the top of the Texas Panhandle, Dalhart is cattle country. The airport opened in 1942 as Dalhart Army Airfield and has been run by the city since 1945. The restaurant serves omelets, pancakes, French toast, Belgian waffles, and other traditional comfort foods.
House specialties include chicken fried steak with eggs, pork chops with eggs, and huevos rancheros. There are also breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches, and biscuits and gravy.
Camarillo Airport (KCMA), Camarillo, California
The Waypoint likes to tout its gourmet Italian coffee. This is a good sign. The menu covers what you might expect, including omelets, breakfast burritos, buttermilk pancakes, Belgian waffles and brioche French toast. There are also items you don’t find everywhere, like chicken and biscuits, ham steak and eggs, and a spicy egg white sandwich with roasted serrano peppers. People-watching and plane-spotting are also fun here, I have heard.