Having a meal at an airport is not usually high on people’s list of entertaining dining. When the suggestion came from our friends at Visit Bentonville, we just knew there was more to this story. Thaden Field is a local airport that serves private traffic. Unlike most places of this type, they also feature an in-house restaurant that is open to the public. Louise, which is named for a local aviation heroine, offers diners an experience unlike any other in town. We dropped in for some coffee, conversation, and a heaping helping of airborne inspiration.
We want to thank Visit Bentonville for hosting our stay. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Not Your Standard Breakfast Stop
Arriving at Thaden Field, we felt as though we discovered a hidden entertainment gem. The exterior is a mix of options that include a play area for the younger set. It also incorporates a wetlands area that attracts native wildlife. Large decks allow visitors to commune with nature even as the activity of the airport takes place nearby. Inside we found plenty of space to relax in their upscale “terminal”. This is definitely not what we were expecting when we heard we were dining at an airport.
Our visits to cities are not random events. Most are well-planned occurrences that take weeks or months of scheduling. Working with the tourism bureau aids us in assuring that we experience a wide range of what the city has to offer. We also like to meet our hosts, whenever possible, so that we can engage in an up-close and personal fashion. Sharing a meal is always a welcome way to fellowship and learn more about the city and the locals. For this breakfast, we were joined by Kalene and Aaron from Visit Bentonville. After the customary introductions, we were soon swapping stories about the experiences to be found in this area. It’s a great way to get some last-minute pointers on making the most of our time.
Having the extra people with us meant that we were able to see more of the menu at Louise. It worked out that we all ordered different items, so there was plenty of eye candy on the table. I chose the Captain’s Omelet, which is packed with the chef’s choice of ingredients, so you never know what you will get. You can be sure it will be tasty. Kalene loves the Hippy Hash and told us she orders this vegetable-packed dish frequently. Aaron selected the Breakfast Burrito that ended up being a protein-filled marvel. Crystal rounded out our order with a Short Stack of pancakes accompanied by some fresh fruit. With everyone’s meals in place, it was time to dig in.
Take to the Skies
As we dined and conversed, the scenes around us were abuzz with activity. Small planes were being prepared for flight. Periodically, one would taxi down the runway for takeoff. The seating at Louise offers diners front-row views of the action. It didn’t matter how many we had seen, we were always amazed to watch the next one take flight. There is something mesmerizing about this engineering marvel. This is probably what inspired Louise McPhetridge Thaden to pursue a career in aviation. This Bentonville native set the world on its ear with her daring and courageous approach to flight. Her escapades would rival that of the noteworthy Kansas aviator, Amelia Earhart.
We can only imagine the criticism and disbelief Louise Thaden must have faced in the early 1900s. Female pilots were not common and in fact, she was the fourth woman to receive a pilot’s license in the United States. That did not stop her from becoming the first woman to win a national air race. Her love for flying became her lifelong obsession and she stuck with it throughout her career. The record books still retain her accolades and achievements. Louise Thaden provided plenty of airborne inspiration for others to follow.