Kent State Celebrates 19th Annual Aviation Heritage Fair

Theresa Cottom

Airplanes and spirits propelled skyward at the 19th Aviation Heritage Fair Saturday, held by the Kent State University Aeronautics Program at the Andrew Patton airport.


Guest speakers were presented throughout the day, including Robert Priestley, an assistant professor of aeronautics at Kent State, and Irena Wentzel, a First Officer at Delta Airlines.


A chilly wind greeted the early morning’s visitors straggling in at 6:30 a.m. to board the hot air balloon. The flight was offered early to beat the rain expected later in the day. The fair began at 7 a.m. when the Stow-Munroe Falls Kiwanis Club started serving its all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.


Aircrafts scattered the lawn in the morning and more arrived as the day continued. The fair featured military aircraft, as well as other restored planes, such as the Douglas C-47 Skytrain “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and a restored “North American SNJ-4 Advanced Navy Trainer” that were both in World War II.


Airplanes like the “Goodfolk & O’Tymes 1929 Travel Air 4000” biplane and Kent State University’s “Cessna 172 R” were offering rides until noon, when it became too windy.


Kent State students flew the Cessna planes. Rachel Antal, a senior in aviation, said the Kent State Flight team was there raising money for a flight competition in the Regional Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference.


Guests like Marilyn Westler, who got the first biplane ride of the day, enjoyed the flights.


“As soon as I heard there was going to be a biplane, I know that was something I wanted to do,” Westler said. “It made me want to learn how to fly so I could do it myself.”


Other organizations were at the fair as well to raise money, such as Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS) Air Museum, the Lake Erie Warbirds and the Yankee Air Museum.


The university airport was also collecting food donations for local animal shelters and animal rescue organizations in Portage and Summit counties.


Maureen McFarland, senior academic program director for Kent State University’s Aeronautics program, said the main goal of the fair was to raise money for the Aviation Heritage Fair scholarship the program endows. The program hasn’t had enough proceeds to give the scholarship since 2013.


McFarland said that, over the past few years, the fair has been costing more to operate due to maintenance costs of the planes. The organizers have been working to figure out a solution.


This year, the fair was free of charge and simply accepted donations.


“We want to reach out and engage the community,” McFarland said. “As long as we break even, we would be happy.”


Families were intrigued as they roamed through the planes and food vendors, learning from the different organizations and veterans about war experiences.

Theresa Cottom

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