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Friday, May 6, 2016

'Spreading the gospel of aviation'

Monday, September 13, 2010

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray talks with a pilot Sunday after taking a ride in a bi-plane Sunday afternoon during Airport Appreciation Days. Banner Graphic/ANDY BARRAND
GREENCASTLE -- Inclement weather may have kept potential young flyers on the ground Saturday, but mostly clear and warm skies attracted dozens of young pilots Sunday at the annual Airport Appreciation Days at the Putnam County Municipal Airport.

Rain Saturday afternoon meant the aircrafts had to stay on the ground until Sunday, at which point children ages 8 through 17 had the opportunity to take 20-minute rides around the skies of Greencastle accompanied by pilots of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter No. 1374 and the EAA's Young Eagles Program.

According to EAA President Duane Skoog, the goal of Airport Appreciation Days each year is simple: to maintain and promote the hobby of flight.

"We just want to spread the gospel of aviation," he said.

Skoog said it was the first time in the history of the event that Saturday flights were canceled. Despite being weathered out on the first day of the event, he said the mild heat and light wind conditions lent themselves to a perfect day for flights Sunday.

As a result of Saturday's rainout, Skoog said attendance at the event was down on the first day of the event. He typically anticipates around 170 children to come out to Airport Appreciation Days for flights; this year he estimated around 80 to 90.

A pilot makes his way out to the runway Sunday afternoon as the tarmac behind him is filled with planes during Airport Appreciation Days. Banner Graphic/ANDY BARRAND
Safety is the No. 1 for concern for Skoog and the seven pilots at the event, and they do their best each year not to turn anyone away.

"The best part is to let the kids get excited," Skoog said. "We're here to tell them that flight is not a magical thing. Anybody can do it," he said. "It's possible for any kid out there."

Sisters Emily Crowder, 9, and 15-year-old Holly Dale were two of those kids at the event who rode on separate planes, and neither had been on a jet until Sunday.

Their mom Laura Crowder took photos and waved at the planes as her daughters flew past the tarmac.

"She was scared. She wanted to ride with her sister," she said of Emily while her other daughter was in the air.

Back on the ground, Emily said her hands were sweaty from being so scared while up in the air.

"If you like roller coasters you should go," Emily Crowder said. "It's worse than a roller coaster."

While Emily vowed she would never fly again, her sister Holly said she would jump at the chance if it ever came up again.

"The landing was bumpy, and my ears kept popping, but I would do it again," she said. "We went around the square. Everything was so compact."

Saturday's "Dixie Chopper Radio Hour," a fundraising event for the EAA Chapter No. 1374 Young Eagles Program and the USO, was also new to the event this year.

Skoog, also the technical director of the DePauw Performing Arts Center, produced the Saturday show, which was presented in the hangar at the Dixie Chopper Business Center.

Live musical numbers interspersed with comedy sketches and classic radio shows were meant to recreate a "Command Performance" live radio hour, reminiscent of the famous national radio program popular on Armed Services Radio during World War II.

While Skoog didn't have an estimate of the total amount of funds raised Saturday, he said a standing ovation following the show was a good indication the event was a success.

"It was a hit," he said. "Everyone was glowing about it."

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My kids were too young for the rides, but loved going and watching the planes and helicopters land and take off. This is a great thing for the community. Thanks Mr. Skoog and Putnam Co Airport. It has been and will continue to be a traditional event for our family.

-- Posted by purduegrad on Mon, Sep 13, 2010, at 9:37 AM

Wonderful thing for Greencastle- i know it draws my family from out of town every year! many thanks to those that work so hard on it - it has become a family tradition for us too!

-- Posted by talkymom3 on Mon, Sep 13, 2010, at 12:40 PM

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