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One of the great things about Bessie’s Diner is the number of pilots we get to interact with on a daily basis. You would be surprised by the number of people that choose to take to the air to get to the diner instead of driving by car. When deciding who was going to be our first Featured Flyer, it was only fitting to start from the beginning. Mary Lou was the first female pilot to fly into Bessie’s on our opening day, and she frequently visits the restaurant to get her favorite breakfast dish, Bessie’s Stack.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mary Lou and learning about her travels to and from the restaurant. Read on and enjoy!

What airport do you fly out of to get to Bessie's?

Poplar Grove (IL) Airport (C77)

How did you get into flying?

I began flying lessons to overcome a very deep fear of flight.

How many years have you been flying?

40 years

What was your first flight like?

It was horrible! I was so nervous. It was at the Elgin (IL) Airport, which is now closed.

Any advice for aspiring pilots?

Realize it is a big commitment and then just take it one step at a time.

Tell us about your plane:

1978 Grumman Tiger – 4 seat, single engine. Cruises at approximately 155 mph on 9.5 gallons of fuel per hour. We also own a J3 Cub for summertime flying! In the past have owned a Piper Arrow and Beechcraft Bonanza.

Any interesting stories about flying into the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport?

When we started flying to Bessie’s, one of the controllers recognized our plane (by the “N” number) from years ago at DuPage Airport. He then remembered a friend’s plane (again by “N” number) who used to fly from Aurora. We couldn’t believe this guy’s ability to remember numbers!

Favorite Bessie’s Diner menu item:

It’s got to be the Bessie’s Stack for breakfast. One works up an appetite on the long 12-minute flight from Poplar Grove.

What do you enjoy most about Bessie’s Diner?

We like how convenient it is. How airplane parking is so close to the restaurant. The friendliness of the staff. The quality of the food. The fact that we almost always see some aviation friends when we are here!

What one question would you ask Bessie? Why did Bessie never get her pilot license?

Will you be attending Warbird Weekend in July?

Yes. Looking forward to seeing lots of unique planes and attending the hangar dance!


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