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Airlift brings clothes for the poor

November 06, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

More than 2,000 pounds of warm winter clothing was airlifted into Hagerstown's Regional Airport Saturday in an annual charity event known as Wings of Warmth.

"We will be distributing this clothing from now through the holidays and into the winter," said Major Robert Henderson, of the Hagerstown Salvation Army.

Founded 11 years ago, Wings of Warmth has been flying into Hagerstown for three years now. Henderson said Hagerstown's airport was picked because there are no landing fees.

That has resulted in a bonanza for the Hagerstown Salvation Army and area residents, Henderson said Saturday at the airport.

Some flyers came in on their own, bringing bags and boxes of clothing from their hometowns, said Russell Carpenter, a NASA aerospace engineer who flies with the NASA Goddard Flying Club out of Bowie.

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"We have been collecting clothing at the College Park airport in anticipation of this airlift," Carpenter said. Pilots involved in the Wings of Warmth flew into that airport Saturday morning, picked up clothing and then flew to Hagerstown.

By noon, 16 planes had arrived and unloaded their cargo into a waiting Salvation Army truck. The ground crew of helpers was made up of Civil Air Patrol cadets.

Carpenter said his reasons for participating in the Wings of Warmth program are basically the same as his love of flying. One big reason is meeting other people with his love of flying.

"And also I did this so I wouldn't be watching television all the time," he said.

Steve Walter, another NASA club member, said the organization gets people signed up and arranges for the clothing to be amassed at College Park each year in the fall.

Scott McDermott and Lynne Powell flew in from College Park around 11 a.m. Saturday.

"We heard about this Wings of Warmth effort from Doug Ilg, president of the NASA flying club," McDermott said.

Flying a vintage Grumman traveler, McDermott and other flyers spent time comparing planes and air speeds while debating low wing versus high wing, twin tail versus single tail, etcetera.

"It's great flying in here," McDermott said. "And there's a great seafood restaurant right here, too, as I recall."

Ruthan Lewis, another NASA engineer, was one of several woman pilots participating Saturday.

"This was our second largest turnout," said Jim Metzger, a member of the NASA club who has been involved every year since Wings of Warmth began in 1989.

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