Fans of airplanes flock to Pa. fly-in

July 25, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -Parachutists landed on grassy areas near the runway while families watched planes take off and land, and Boy Scouts learned about vintage airplanes Saturday at the fifth annual Chambersburg Airport Fly-In.

The fly-in is "the last major function under the banner of Chambersburg Airport," said Gary Keller, vice president of United States Ultralight Association Club 201 Millennium Flyers. The airport recently was sold and will be renamed Franklin County Regional Airport, under the Susquehanna Area Regional Authority.

Most of the proceeds from the fly-in will be donated to Mercy Medical Airlift/Angel Flight, Keller said. The fund-raising goal is $5,000.


Jerry Dorre of Virginia Beach, Va., is vice president of Mercy Medical Airlift, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving those in need of air transportation through a variety of nationwide charitable programs, one of which is Angel Flight.

Angel Flight is available to "anyone who needs transportation to a specialized medical facility within 1,000 miles. Patients have to be ambulatory, and able to get on and off the aircraft," said Dorre, who coordinates the Mid-Atlantic region of Mercy Medical Airlift.

For nonambulatory patients, Mercy Medical Airlift will obtain a discounted ticket on a commercial airline, or direct them to an Air Ambulance or Special Lift program.

"We'll get them to where they will get the best possible treatment," Dorre said.

Insurance companies usually cover the specialized treatments, but not the transportation, Dorre said.

The Mid-Atlantic region of Mercy Medical Airlift flew 1,572 missions in 2003, he said. More than 1,000 pilots volunteer in the region.

Pilot Gerald Edwards, a retired orchardist from St. Thomas, Pa., has flown patients to treatment centers, both with Angel Flight and Air Life Line.

While he does not know how many flights he has made, he has flown patients to "Boston, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Syracuse - anywhere within that area."

On Saturday, Edwards gave free, 20-minute plane rides to children ages 8 to 17 under the Young Eagles program of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The Young Eagles program started about 10 years before the 100th anniversary of powered flight, Edwards said, to give 1 million children the opportunity to fly.

Fifteen members of Boy Scout Troop 248 from Oakdale, Pa., worked on their aviation merit badge at the event. Scoutmaster Ed Hasley said the Scouts, ages 10 to 17, talked to pilots about the controls in the plane and about what makes a plane fly, then participated in a pre-flight inspection.

"The resources here are phenomenal," Hasley said.

Boy Scout Richard B. Mandus, 11, took his first plane ride Saturday in an open cockpit biplane, which can be piloted from either the front or back seat. Mandus sat with his father, Richard Mandus Jr., in the front seat of the AT-6, which was used as a training plane during World War II.

"It was awesome," he said after climbing down from the wing of the aircraft. He planned to go up in a Cessna later in the day, he said.

Richard Mandus Jr. said he had flown before, but never "in a plane like that," he said. "It was definitely a different experience. Wonderful."

Kathryn Ridgway, event coordinator for United States Ultralight Association Club 201 Millennium Flyers, said donations for Mercy Medical/Angel Flight will be accepted through next week. Checks may be made to United States Ultralight Association and sent to Kathryn Ridgway, 3 W. Main St., Fayetteville, PA 17222.

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