September 24, 2013
by Tori Williams
On Saturday, September 21, 2013 Capital City airport hosted their annual Aviation Day for the general public. Rainy skies on this early morning could not dampen the spirits of those presenting and assisting with festivities. Vendors rushed in the cold drizzle to set up their booths and prepare for the curious crowds that would soon arrive. A lot was to be done by students of The Institute of Aerospace Education, who were in charge of facilitating a basic ground school, flight simulator experience, offering concessions, as well as hosting an informational booth. I donned my IAE polo and cheerfully followed instructions to aid in setup, then returned to my assigned position at our booth. I saw many of my peers take charge and do an amazing job with preparation and arrangements for the day.
Despite having to fight against the rain and wind, everything for Aviation Day was soon set up and ready to go. Cadets from the Franklin County Air Force JROTC ushered in traffic, and a slow stream of early visitors began to appear. To the right of the IAE booth was a booth for the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. To the left was a booth for the aviation program at Eastern Kentucky University. I had a nice time chatting with Capt. Louis Johnson about EKU before visitors had made their way back towards our booths. Soon we were off, answering questions and telling about the programs that we represent.
It was a perfect progression of information, with the summer camps offered by the Aviation Museum of Kentucky being the first stop for visitors out our way. Next was our IAE booth, explaining how a student could continue their aerospace education in high school. After that was EKU, with their amazing program for a professional career in aviation. I talked with several families who showed an interest in what we have to offer, giving them information and then sending them towards the IAE ground school and flight experience. The brilliant Cate Colette who was also working the booth had the idea of bringing her airplane and helicopter stamps, so we let young visitors pick their flying machine of choice and stamp them on their hand.
Around eleven o’clock the clouds began to move away and the sun started shining. Crowds had really begun to thicken, and Young Eagle flights started departing with their ecstatic passengers. You could feel the joy of aviation enthusiasts of all ages as activities continued on.
Soon I was able to take my lunch break, so I headed towards the main hangar to find concessions. During my walk I was able to see the static displays of many neat aircraft. The Institute’s Twin Comanche joined such displays as a Piper Navajo, King Air 200, and Blackhawk. I reached the opposite side of the ramp and got a glimpse at the line for Young Eagles flights, which stretched the entire length of the large hangar. It was encouraging to see so many kids interested in taking a flight, and I hope they all got their wish before the day was over.
I followed the delicious smell of hamburgers and hotdogs to the concession stand. Fellow senior Junior Herrera greeted me with a happy but slightly stressed out smile. He, Jim Cline, Barbara Adams and a few students had been ceaselessly serving customers throughout the entire morning. Their freshly grilled food and cold soft drinks enticed the appetite of hundreds of visitors. I quickly grabbed a hotdog and coke, then moved away to the center of the ramp to begin eating as I took everything in. Small children rode around at my feet in tricycles fashioned with the appearance of airplanes, and I watched the almost constant stream of aircraft taking off and landing on runway 25. It was exhilarating to see so much fun and excitement being had at the airport that I am most familiar with.
Nearing the end of my lunch break, I traveled back to the end of the ramp and checked in on my friends hosting the ground school and flight experiences. Sammie Tinnel and Jason Smith taught their small classes with impressive knowledge and passion. By the end of the day they had done more than 6 sessions for interested groups. They covered the basics of flight, what causes an airplane to fly, and how to control an aircraft effectively. I listened for a few minutes, then went to see how those on the flight simulators were doing. A total of 75-100 visitors had a chance to try out a simulator, and were really enjoying themselves in doing so.
Back at the IAE booth I finished out the day by talking to more visitors and then helping everyone take down their displays. Although the day started out rainy and cold, it ended with beautiful weather and hundreds of happy attendees. Aviation Day 2013 was a great success!