Aero National, Flyers’ Club revives event at Washington County Airport

September 3, 2014
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A view of the Washington County Airport runway
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Barbara S. Miller / Observer-Reporter
A short flight in a Piper Warrior is being offered in exchange for a minimum $25 per person donation to the Wounded Warrior Project at “Wings of Washington” Sept. 14. Order a Print

An event billed as “Wings of Washington” will feature displays on the grounds of the Washington County Airport and a chance to take to the air to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 14.

Aero National Inc., an air ambulance service that is a fixed-base operator in the terminal of the county airport, and Washington Flyers’ Club, established in 1952, are sponsors of the program, which is supported by Washington County Airport and Southpointe Chamber of Commerce and Marcellus Shale Coalition.

“There have been an awful lot of improvements at the airport,” said Tom Pizzuti, owner of Aero National Inc., so “Wings of Washington” is an opportunity to showcase the changes. The Flyers Club, which opened its ranks last year to include any unlicensed aviation enthusiast, also sees the day as a chance to recruit members. The club will be selling refreshments.

Though no admission fee will be charged, Aero National, in its Piper Warrior plane, will take those who have donated a minimum of $25 per person to the Wounded Warrior Project, a veterans’ service organization, for 15- to 20-minute flights.

“My son just joined the Marines Reserve, and I think it’s a great cause,” Pizzuti said. “One hundred percent of revenues are going to be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project,” rather than going toward fuel or insurance costs.

A similar event hasn’t been held at the airport for at least eight years.

The event depends on good weather because storms, low clouds or fog could interfere. The sponsors designated Sept. 21 as the rain date. Those who would like more information can call Aero National at 724-228-8000.

William McGowen, executive director of Washington County Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the operation of the airport, said a separate event, not yet scheduled for this fall, will be held to cut a ribbon at the airport terminal and rededicate bronze plaques that were once displayed on gates at the airport in honor of Washington’s aviation pioneer, DeLloyd “Dutch” Thompson.

The county airport was dedicated in Thompson’s memory in 1949, the year of his death. Thompson was the second aviator in the United States to perform a loop with an airplane and skywrite. He demonstrated the potential use of aircraft in warfare and held both altitude and speed records for many years.

The plaques were removed from the airport office and kept for many years in the military history room of the LeMoyne House, East Maiden Street, the home of Washington County Historical Society.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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