For serious eaters, a pilot's license is a ticket to memorable food experiences: Having a private plane makes it far easier to jaunt from a strawberry shortcake festival in Lebanon, Ore. to a rhubarb celebration in Conrad, Mont. But local fliers say a few of their favorite meals are just a short skip off the tarmac.
Pilots across the Puget Sound know the region's airports by what their diners do best. According to Kelly Bright, manager of Avian Flight Center in Bremerton, the indisputable pie destination is Port Townsend's Jefferson County International Airport, where aviators swear by the flaky, scratch-made rhubarb raspberry. Bowerman Airport in Hoquiam is famed for its hand-dipped root beer milkshakes.
Bright, who's frequently made cross-county food runs, says her airport's diner is the fish-and-chips champion.
"They're very good," she says. "People come in from town for it."
For new fliers, who don't yet know what to order at which airport, the celebrated dishes serve as trip organizers. It's not uncommon for an instructor to send a practicing pilot to Port Orchard to try the fish and chips, Bright says.
"If you go and get what's yummy, it calms you down," Bright says. "It's a calming point to get your wits about you."