Sunday, March 20, 2011
Students, pilots converge on Downtown Airport for fly-in
Col. Jim Marks, 47th Fighter Squadron, talks about the A-10 Thunderbolt to 60-year-old Michael Bamburg and his grandchildren. (Photo by Adam Duvernay / The Times
By Adam Duvernay
The Shreveport Times
It wasn't the normal air traffic for the Downtown Shreveport Airport.
The Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 343, hosted the Wings Over the Red River Fly-In and Airport Open House Saturday, bringing in local pilots and students to examine aircraft and swap stories.
"This is where a lot of young people make the decision to be commercial pilots, military pilots and even some of our astronauts got their start here," said EAA Chapter 343 President George Carroll.
About 25 aircraft touched down, including private, commercial and military planes. Some of them were just for show, but some general aviation aircraft and their pilots took to the skies with eager passengers. Those passengers — Young Eagles aviation students participating in the program sponsored by the EAA — were mostly Parkway High School Air Force Junior ROTC students. All 54 of them got what was, for many, their first real experience with aircraft.
"I had fun, aside from the fact I was screaming the whole time," said Leanza Nye, 16. "Right now I probably wouldn't do this alone, but if I keep going up there I might change my mind."
Brandon Olp, 17, said he got some of his first experiences with military aircraft Saturday, something he said will be useful for his future military career. He said he and his schoolmates learned about aircraft engineering and maintenance in different fields of aviation.
The Air Force sent an A-10 Thunderbolt II, a straight-wing jet aircraft designed to provide close air support against ground targets, for the short flight from Barksdale Air Force Base to the Downtown Airport.
Col. Jim Marks, 47th Fighter Squadron, was on hand to answer questions about the impressive fighting machine.
"This is a chance to meet with local pilots and let the public see what they're paying for," Marks said.
Marks said the fly-in is a useful public relations tool, allowing an Air Force representative to talk to local pilots and explain some of the complex rules for sharing civilian and military airspace.