WAYNESBURG – Pilot Max Loughman gets a twinkle in his eye when he talks about aviation. For just a moment, Loughman is the little boy who stood – arms draped across a chain link fence – looking onto the runway at the Greene County Airport, and was anxious to one day soar. Several decades later, Loughman, who became a commercial pilot, created Supporting Our Aviation Resources, SOAR for short, for the latest generation of kids who want to reach the clouds.
Today, SOAR, along with Experimental Aircraft Association chapters 978 and 842, will offer a real opportunity for children and adults to do just that. The groups are behind the third installment of Aviation Day at the Greene County Airport in Waynesburg.
Free airplane rides will be offered for children 8 to 17 year old as part of the EAA Young Eagles program. To be eligible for a Young Eagles flight, children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to sign a consent form in person. Parents or guardians are not permitted to accompany children on their flight, per EAA regulations. The consent form must be completed by 4 p.m. today. The airplane rides start at 10 a.m., and the last plane will be on the ground by 6 p.m.
Loughman is one of more than a dozen people from Greene County who have made a career as professional aviators. Southwest, Delta and USAir, among other airlines, have employed pilots who got their start at the airport in Waynesburg.
“The pilots who will be here are volunteers. We try to cover their gas; that’s our commitment to them,” Loughman said.
Most – like John Lovingood, known as the father of aviation in Greene County – do it for the love of flying and also seeing someone’s face light up when they take them up in their plane. Loughman said Lovingood taught him a lot about flying.
The pilot will run through the basics of flying and conduct a preflight inspection of the plane. They also will talk to the Young Eagles about their flight pattern before helping to secure them in their seat.
During the 15 to 20-minute flight, the pilot will answer questions and share information. Six pilots manning Cessna C-206, C-170, C-172 and C-182 aircraft will conduct the Young Eagle flights. There are three scheduled flights per hour.
Adults who would like to to fly can take ride for a $20 donation. The payment, in addition to a $5 per car parking fee, helps to offset the fuel costs for the pilot volunteers, Loughman said.
At 12:30 p.m. the airport will close for the Aviation Day Airshow. Of course, all flights are weather dependent, Loughman said.
In addition to airplane rides and the airshow, several other activities have been scheduled throughout the day. Kevin Jacobs of Waynesbur and owner of the Talent Collection volunteered to help SOAR and EAA make the Aviation Day event bigger and better. Jacobs said he would like to see the Greene County Aviation Day become something people mark on their calendars and look forward to each year.
“I’m looking forward to growing the event and making it more of an attraction, a draw, like Rain Day,” Jacobs said. “We have different things (taking place) to grab different interests.”
A static airplane display, rock climbing wall, inflatable slide, photo booth, face painting, and World War II encampments with re-enactors are among the other activities schedule at the event, Jacobs said. Food and other vendors also will be at the event.
Both Jacobs and Loughman noted many airshows have had to cancel this year because of federal budget cuts.
“A lot of them have canceled across the U.S. after the Boston bombing and FAA cutbacks,” Jacobs said. “We wouldn’t be here if we had not got the clearances and local pilots and friends weren’t flying. We are trying to get the interest back that was once here and we have to get people to the airport to do that.”