COLUMBIA - Pilots from across Missouri landed their small aircraft at Columbia Regional Airport on Saturday for a free breakfast and fundraiser.

"Everyone came in from all corners of the state for this event," said Cole Finley, an Air Traffic Controller at the airport. "I couldn't be happier with how it turned out."

Finley organized the event as a destination for pilot's needing to log flight time. But, he realized he could make more of an impact with the out-of-town visitors.

More than a month ago, Finley put on his first event; a food drive fly-in. He said it was so successful, he worked with the Rainbow House in Columbia to host Saturday's event.

"He's done this once before for another fundraising event," said Melissa Faurot, executive director of the Rainbow House. "And it was just a really unique way to reach a lot of different people in the community, and a lot of different areas. We've had some people come out from Macon and Kansas City and St. Louis."

Rainbow House is a non-profit organization which serves as an emergency and advocacy shelter for children who may have experienced abuse.

At the end of the day, the pilots who flew in raised more than $1,200 for Rainbow House.

Many pilots brought their families along for the ride. Finley hopes their kids see the positive impact that can be made in all sorts of places.

"It's a way to not only spark a kid's imagination to do good for a charitable organization like the Rainbow House, but also expose that resource of if there's something that needs to be done that we can all gather as a state," he said.

Finley said he hopes to organize another fly-in toward the start of MU's football season.

To report an error or typo, email

Recommended for you