A Day of Aviation


Brent Cessna, an attendee of the Aviation Heritage Festival, walks out of the hangar at the Kent State Airport. Reflected in the window of a Willis Jeep, is a World War Two U.S. Navy TBM-3E Avenger. Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.

Lauren Phillips

A slight chance of rain Saturday didn’t scare people away from the 19th annual Kent State Aviation Heritage Festival at the Andrew Paton Airport.

The Aviation Festival celebrates the past, present and future of aviation. Looking across the flight deck, there were families, military service members and veterans walking around and looking at all types of aircrafts. The festival included World War II living history re-enactors interacting with visitors.

“We are re-enactors, we teach people history,” said freshman architecture major Andrew Messing.

The men travel with the 101st Airborne – 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment Baker Company Re-enactors Inc. to several different events to honor their mission of honoring the veterans of World War II and educating the public on the role played by the American paratrooper.  

Messing and his re-enactor friend Jordan Schile, were dressed in uniforms and helmets as 101st Airborne soldiers to help teach local students a part of history that may not be shown in history books, Schile said.

17-year-old Samantha Clark from Stow asked for a photograph with the young 101st Airborne re-enactors. Her grandfather and grandmother both served in World War II. Clark said she comes to the festival every year because of her grandparents’ service in the Army Air Corps.  Her grandfather trained pilots during World War II.

A highlight of the event featured the Yankee Doodle Dandy DC3 aircraft.  People could give a donation to tour the aircraft.  The aircraft was built in 1945, it never saw combat in World War II, but the DC3 was used to carry paratroopers, jeeps and to tow glider planes. Vince Caruso, an Air Force veteran B52 mechanic said this specific plane is used for rides and education.  The Yankee Doodle Dandy travels all over during the flying season to events like the Kent Aviation Festival. 

Tuskegee Airman Roy Richardson received a standing ovation from about 30 adults and children as he entered the tent to speak about segregation during World War II. Richardson trained with a number of men and women to fly and maintain combat aircrafts during World War II. At this time there is not an official number of Tuskegee Airman who are still living today.

Richardson said that many of the African-American Airmen did not want to train at Tuskegee because of its location in the South. According to Tuskegee Airman website, the airmen overcame segregation and prejudice and became the most highly respected fighter groups in World War II.

As the day came to a close Kent State airplane rides had to be cancelled due to high winds.  The rain held off the entire afternoon and other activities continued as scheduled. 

Lauren Phillips is the military/veterans beat reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].