Tom Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that all former-Fairchild employees and families are urged to come.
"This is a free community celebration of aviation in Hagerstown, and also is a Fairchild employees' reunion," Riford said. "Hagerstown used to make the best airplanes in the world, and still has an impact on aviation businesses today. It's been estimated that more than 55,000 people worked at Fairchild over the course of its existence. It used to be a big employer here, however, Hagerstown is still a strong contributor to the state's aviation economy." More than 20 aviation-related businesses are at the airport, and in recognizing Hagerstown Regional Airport's importance, the federal government is providing funding for a major runway extension project.
According to event organizers, it was decided to move the reunion and movie premier to the spacious Faith Chapel on Potomac Street.
Washington County Free Library Public Relations Coordinator Marsha Fuller said, "Faith Chapel is right across from The Maryland Theatre, and comfortably seats more than 450 people. We will have all the Fairchild displays and mementoes, and this is a great opportunity for former Fairchild employees to get together again." Fuller said that many longtime Hagers-town residents might remember the old Colonial Theater, "The old theater has been totally redone inside. If you haven't seen it, you'll be amazed. It's beautiful, and has the best digital projection equipment for a large theater in the county, it's perfect for the premier of the aviation documentary. We're so pleased that Faith Chapel has been made available for this event."
No displays of the rescheduled Fairchild Reunion will take place at the airport. However, Greg Larsen, business development director of the Hagerstown Regional Airport said, "We expect A-10s to land at the Hagerstown Regional Airport sometime around 1 p.m. on Nov. 6. Then, the pilots will be escorted to Faith Chapel for the reunion event. The A-10 combat pilots who will be attending have already communicated with us that they are truly excited to meet the former-Fairchild employees who built their sturdy attack aircraft so many years ago. Even though we have had to reschedule this event, we expect a great turnout."
The A-10 still is in service today, and has seen critical combat duty in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The last A-10 rolled off the Hagerstown Fairchild assembly line, and was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 1984.
Larsen said, "This is the 20th anniversary of the last aircraft made here, and we're expecting a great deal of interest." Larsen said he expects curious onlookers to gather near the airport, once they get the news that A-10s are scheduled to land. "The A-10 has proven itself. We understand that area residents might want to keep their eyes on the sky, during the afternoon of Nov. 6, when the A-10s are anticipated."
Fuller said the Washington County Free Library is a big supporter of the event. "Transportation is a big part of our county's history, aviation and Fairchild's influence is incredibly important." The library is undertaking the initial stages of a Transportation Room, dedicated to its contributions throughout Washington County's history.
The unique and untold story of Hagerstown's aviation past unfolds in a new documentary film by Vintage Video Productions. With many never-before released images, and an extensive collection of rare local film footage, this documentary is sure to pique the interest of Fairchild and Hagerstown aviation enthusiasts everywhere. The cornerstone of the re-reunion is the premier of the documentary. "This new movie chronicles nearly 70 years of aviation manufacturing effects on Hagerstown," said John Seburn, president of Vintage Video.
The free premiere takes place on Nov. 6, at Faith Chapel in Hagerstown. Doors open at about 1:30 p.m. for the Fairchild Re-Reunion, and the talks and movie will start around 3 p.m. To accommodate the public, a second showing of the 90-minute film will take place at 7 p.m. For further information, call 301-739-3250, ext. 128 or visit www.marylandmemories.org on the Web.
Documentary Film contact info: Vintage Video Production c/o John Seburn, 11414 Williamsport Pike, Greencastle, PA 17225. Additional film information and to order: Phone: 1-717-597-9695 or order online at www.vintagevideo.com. Film available for $29.95 VHS or DVD.