Air fair set at county airport PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 10:16
File photo. Adults and children make their way into a small aircraft at the Wood County Airport during the Air Fair event last year. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
With security and scrutiny consistently increasing at airports, Americans could be forgiven for looking past their country's history of a love affair with flight.
Wood County Regional Airport is looking to reignite that fire at its Air Fair this year, bringing together some of the more storied World War II aircraft still in existence.
The event, slated Sept. 14 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., will see planes flying in from around the region, as well as historical stalwarts that helped turn the tide of the war, totaling more than 60 aircraft expected to be present.
A P-51 Mustang, the model featured in the recent film "Red Tails" and famously flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, the country's first unit of black pilots, will be on hand, and a B-25 Mitchell bomber will be used in a flight demonstration during the day.
"There's so much historical context surrounding all the airplanes, but each individually as well. There's a story behind each aircraft," said Matt McVicker, manager of the airport.
The crown jewel of the Air Fair will be a B-17 four-engine heavy bomber, the "Yankee Lady" from Ypsilanti, Mich.
The aircraft, commonly referred to as a "Flying Fortress," is one of only nine such planes still flying today. It performed daylight, precision strategic bombing in Europe, attacking enemy munitions factories, bases and oil refineries from 1942 to 1945.
"There's a very patriotic feeling surrounding it, because that was one of the workhorses of World War II," McVicker said.
Not only will visitors be able to view the plane up close, the Air Fair will offer the rare chance to be one of 12 passengers on a flight in exchange for a $425 tax-deductible donation. While flight plans vary, pilots often take special requests on routes. The experience lasts about 45 minutes from engine start to shut down, with actual air time of about 30 minutes.
McVicker said the flight would be an exceptional opportunity to relive the experience of one's elders who may have served and flown in any of the nearly 13,000 B-17s built around the time of the war.
"They're pricey rides, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime-type thing," McVicker said. "It's very unusual to get a ride in a B-17."
The event is planned as a family-friendly way to "experience aviation first-hand," he added. There will be food vendors, a children's activity area and play area, displays in the corporate hanger, and information available from Bowling Green State University about how to pursue a degree in aviation toward a career in flight.
There will also be other ways to hit the skies, with helicopter rides for sale and the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program offering free flights in small aircraft for children ages 8-17 with a parent or guardian's permission.
The club provided rides to 163 youth during last year's event, but those interested are encouraged to sign-up early, as there was not enough time for 30 to take their own flights, McVicker said. Rides are only for children, but family flights are available at a low cost, he said.
The Air Fair is free, with parking off of Taragon Drive for a suggested donation to local Boy Scouts.
McVicker said the event is not only intended to spark interest in aviation, but recognize the airport's own place in the community.
"It's also as an opportunity to showcase the airport as a community asset. We see this airport as a secondary main street into the community just as (Interstate) 75 or any of the routes that come into Bowling Green are."
The airport authority is forming a Friends of Wood County Regional Airport group to organize fundraising efforts to support additional educational events and programs. The group will be seeking officers and volunteers during the Air Fair.

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