WAYNESBURG – Sometimes it takes a weekend to find one good day to fly.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the Greene County Airport Aviation Days is taking off with airplane rides, aircraft displays, flyovers, sky divers and more. And depending on the weather, there will be plenty of chances to get in a plane and fly.
This weekend, kids age 8 to 17 are invited to become Young Eagles and take a first free flight to see Greene County from more than 2,000 feet in the air.
“The kids need a parent or legal guardian to sign a consent form in person,” John Strope of Strope Aviation said. “Kids who want to fly seem to have it born in them. A few weeks ago, I was at Washington Airport and a boy about 10 years old came up to me and said, ‘I want to be a pilot.’ I asked him if he’d ever flown in a plane and he said no. So, I told him and his mom to come to Aviation Days and get a free ride and he got the biggest grin on his face. I really hope he and his family make it down. He’ll have a blast.”
Learning to fly is something that can happen at any age and Aviation Days offers flights for a donation to any adult who wants to give it a try.
“Flying was definitely on my bucket list,” Dan Smith of New Freeport admitted. “When I was a kid, my brother and I built model planes and rockets. Forty years ago, I flew in Des Moines, Iowa, with the company I worked for. When I retired, I started thinking about it again. When I saw an ad in the paper last year for ground school classes at the airport, I said, ‘Why not?’
Smith took the classes and then found an instructor and started flying again. “Now, I’m buying a STOL. It’s a kit plane and can land three times in the space of a football field. When I’m better skilled, I’ll be able to land it in the field behind the pole barn on my farm. I encourage anyone who has ever wanted to fly to come out this weekend and see what it’s like.”
Aviation Days will have games for kids to play and the Airport Restaurant will be open.
“Dan Wagner and some of his culinary kids will also be here with good picnic fare for sale and we have various vendors coming,” pilot Max Loughman said. “Pilots will have their planes parked outside for people to look at and kids will be able to sit in some of them and have their photos taken.
“Two restored T-34s (military training planes from the 1950s) will fly over in formation and there will be a sky diver at 10 a.m to open the event,” he said.
Loughman is president of Supporting Our Aviation Resources SOAR, the organization that formed in 2010 to better promote the airport. Aviation Days was his group’s first big project and it has become a fun thing to do for both the pilots and the people, especially kids, who come out to enjoy this weekend with wings.
“There aren’t many little regional airports left,” SOAR member Jeff Halliday said. “It’s important that people in Greene County realize what a treasure we have here.” Halliday is one of the pilots who volunteers to take Young Eagles on their first flight, not just during Aviation Days but whenever someone contacts the group.
SOAR, which has about 60 members on its email list, meets the first Tuesday of the month at the airport.
For more information about Aviation Days or SOAR, call Loughman at 724-344-9693.