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Nostalgia's in the air at Fairchild reunion

October 08, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - The fly-in at the Hagerstown Regional Airport this weekend shows that aviation can be a very expensive hobby.

People fly in to show off their planes and eat lunch, said Kenneth Jones of the Experimental Aviation Association.

Because of the cost of gas and expense of airplanes, fly-ins are known as the "$100 hamburger" among pilots, Jones said.

"You love to fly, but you have nowhere to go, so you go for lunch," Jones said.

The EAA sold breakfast and lunch to those hungry pilots.

Former Fairchild Aircraft employees are holding their eighth annual reunion and fly-in this weekend.

Woody Hawbecker worked at Fairchild for more than 30 years. He started as an engineer, eventually working his way into management positions.

Former Fairchild Aircraft workers attend reunions because they are an important part of local history, Hawbecker said.

"People appreciate the historical part of what aviation means to Hagerstown," he said. "In the early days, I don't think a family in the area wasn't connected to Fairchild. It's part of the culture."

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According to Hawbecker, there was a time during World War II that every plant and manufacturing facility in Hagerstown was making aircraft parts for Fairchild.

"Fairchild was the salvation of Hagerstown," said Herb Taylor, who sat next to Hawbecker as they talked about their memories of Fairchild.

Taylor said he always has been an aviation lover, and worked for Fairchild for 15 years after he spent some time in the Air Force during the Korean War.

An EAA group works to ensure that younger generations also grow up to be aviation lovers.

The Young Eagles give children free 20-minute rides in smaller airplanes during events such as fly-ins.

Timothy Showalter, 12, of Greencastle, Pa., took a flight Saturday.

"I saw my farm and some of my other friends' places," he said.

Now, he might want to be a pilot when he grows up, Timothy said.




If you go



What: Fly-in and Fairchild Aircraft Family Reunion

When: Today, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Hagerstown Aircraft Services, Hagerstown Regional Airport, north of Hagerstown

Call 301-733-7604 or go to www.hagerstownaviationmuseum.org.

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