Monday, May 14, 2007
sponsored by Graue Inc. & Illini Bank

Airport Daze satisfies crowds

Youth get Young Eagle wings           Send a link to a friend

[May 14, 2007]  Sunny, delightful weather on Saturday yielded a great day for families that came out to spend the morning at the airport. What drew most people were the free flights that about 25 youth participated in. Youth came from Lincoln and beyond for their first-time flight in a small aircraft.

The flights were offered though the Young Eagle program, sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association. Pilots belonging to the Bloomington and Freeport EAA chapters supplied airplanes and fuel for the flights. (Young Eagles)

This was the fifth year that Heritage In Flight Museum hosted the program at the Logan County Airport. The first Logan County Young Eagles was in 2003: "Young Eagles magic."

A few months ago Heritage In Flight board president Barry Miller began brainstorming. Why don't we expand this a little and make it bigger this year, he suggested. With the goal to provide youth with more exposure, increase exposure to and interest in aviation, and maybe attract more of the general public out to the airport, Airport Daze was born.

Also attracting a lot of attention were the glider displays and glider flight demonstrations by the Illini Glider Club from Monticello. All day there were glider tow planes launching off the northwest-southeast grass runway between Young Eagle flights taking off on the northeast-southwest asphalt runway. Once they reached altitude, the gliders were released, and they lazily descended like butterflies over the field to the east.

The Civil Air Patrol youth and leaders were present to provide assistance with directing ground traffic control and pedestrian protection. CAP also had a display and representatives present to explain the responsibility and character-building program for youth. CAP's stated mission is to train youth as responsible citizens through aviation and leadership. (Civil Air Patrol)

Numerous displays were added for the day in and around the Heritage In Flight hangar and museum. There was also an in-house theater playing aviation-related movies.

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At the close of the Young Eagles, another attraction grabbed everyone's attention. All heads turned to see the loud hum produced by a World War II warbird, the Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger that just flew in from St. Louis. The Avenger first buzzed the runway and then returned for a spectacular landing. As pilot Clyde Zellers taxied in, he stopped the aircraft. What happened next wowed the crowd. It was almost like watching a science fiction movie as the aircraft's wings folded up and in. This left it looking a little like some supersized wasp.

When the day was done, everyone was satisfied with how it all turned out. One pilot said she really enjoyed flying the kids. It amazed her how they showed interest, thought a lot and asked great questions.

A Lincoln High School student said she was surprised when she first saw the inside of the airplane she was to ride in. It was one of the sleek experimental aircraft. It was so small; there's little room to get in or to move around, she said, but it was all right once I was in. She was glad the pilot put the plane in a bank a couple of times so that she could get some pictures out the sides. Like most of the kids, she hadn't stopped smiling and said she loved the flight.

Displays were provided by the National Weather Service, Civil Air Patrol, Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County, the Illini Glider Club and the ham radio club operators.

In addition to appreciation to the above, Heritage In Flight thanked the Logan County Board and the airport committee, EAA members, CAP, Frank Musick, and Commemorative Air Force of St. Charles, Mo.

[Jan Youngquist]

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