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Crowd blown away by Wings and Wheels

June 13, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Microphone in hand, Sam Venneri was preparing to read off a list of car-show winners when he was interrupted by an engine roar and a powerful gust of wind.

A few hundred feet away, the propeller had begun to spin on the front of a bright blue-and-yellow Fairchild PT-19 airplane, which then took off and flew away.

Such disruptions come with the territory when you host a combination car, truck and airplane show such as the one Saturday near Hagerstown Regional Airport by the Hagerstown Aviation Museum.

The presence of airplanes was not the only thing unique about Saturday's show, said Venneri, an aerospace consultant and museum member.

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Instead of awarding prizes for different classes of cars, the museum gave out 40 trophies, in no particular order, to any vehicles the judges liked, Venneri said.

The show was designed as a family-friendly alternative to larger car shows, which often are loud and have "girls in skimpy clothing, that sort of thing," he said.

Donald Miller, 43, of Hagerstown, took advantage of the child-friendly atmosphere for an outing with his 8-year-old son, Gabriel, who wants to be a pilot when he grows up.

While Gabriel ran from car to car, pointing out their features, and pointed excitedly at the planes, Miller got a video message on his phone from his 14-year-old son, who was in a plane flying with his Civil Air Patrol Unit.

"He wants to go into the Air Force," Miller said.

Other participants in the show said they enjoyed the planes, but their passion was for cars.

"I just like coming and looking at all the cars," said Ben Goodrich, 18, of Hagerstown, who brought his red 1997 Chevrolet Camaro to the show.

Goodrich said he had replaced the exhaust, wheels and interior, but his work on the car was far from over.

"It's never over," he said.

The Best In Show winner, Ruth Siger, 43, of Warfordsburg, Pa., said she and her boyfriend, Jim Exline, had been working on their 1967 Corvette for about four years.

Their car is painted a color called "Candy Brandywine" and mixes an old-fashioned look with a modern suspension system and powerful motor.

Siger and the other winners were handed their trophies by Miss Washington County Whitney Colombo, who, earlier Saturday, had been taken up in a Cessna by a local pilot.

"She made a comment to me that, 'I've just been Miss Washington County since February '09, so I don't want to get hurt or die in an airplane accident,'" Venneri said.

Colombo flew with a very experienced pilot and had nothing to worry about, Venneri said.

The museum plans to hold the show again next year, he said.

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