Flying skyward at the Aviation Heritage Fair

Andrew Bugel

Despite rain delays, the Kent State University Aeronautics Program held its annual Aviation Heritage Fair at the Kent State Airport in Stow on Saturday.

The 18th annual Aviation Heritage Fair kicked off just after 7 a.m. on Sept. 13 with its all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast buffet for visitors. Rain shortly after 11 a.m. cancelled activities, including the scheduled balloon launch. The skies eventually cleared up around noon, and the fair went on as scheduled.

The Aeronautics Program also presented two scholarships to students majoring in aeronautics at Kent State. Aeronautics majors Ashley Turnbull, a senior, and Jaime Laughlin, a junior, each won a scholarship Saturday morning.

“I’m really excited,” said Turnbull, whose concentration is in aviation management. “It’s really expensive to be an aviation major.”

Ben Satyshur, the Aviation Safety Program Manager and event manager for the fair, said one of the goals for the fair was to get adults as well as kids interested in aviation. The fair also aimed to give veterans a chance to see some of the aircrafts they may have flown or worked on during World War II and Vietnam.

“To see that enthusiasm in them when they go out and see the airplanes flying and actually hop in an airplane and go up for a flight,” Satyshur said about seeing people, especially young children, excited about aviation.

Along with seeing the planes and enjoying the food, the Kent State University Precision Flight Team conducted rides for visitors in multiple single-engine Cessna planes throughout the day for a fee of $25 per person. The flights lasted about 20 minutes each and took visitors above and around Dix Stadium, the Kent campus and the surrounding city of Kent.

On display to visitors during the event were multiple aircraft, including models of planes that fought in World War II and Vietnam. Some of the planes on display included a World War II Torpedo Bomber that was used in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, a U.S. Navy “North American SNJ,” a “C-47 Skytrain,” a “King Air B100” and a “B-25 Mitchell Bomber.” Along with the airplanes were an Ohio State Highway Patrol helicopter, a Cleveland Clinic helicopter and Goodyear’s new “Wing Foot One” airship.

The Wing Foot One, which looks like a regular blimp, made its way to the Kent State Airport shortly after noon and hovered in the air throughout the afternoon for visitors to get a close look at the new vessel. The airship is semi-rigid and has the ability to fly backwards.

In attendance at the fair was Sarah M. Deal, a former Kent State graduate who served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps. She was the first-ever female aviator in the Marines in 1993. Deal said she loved coming back to Kent, and it was her first trip to the Heritage Fair, but she said she hopes the fair will bring awareness to the Aeronautics Program at Kent State.

“This is the first time I’ve been back in Kent in 15 years,” Deal said. “It’s sad to see that such a great program is not getting the attention it deserves.”

Many graduate and undergraduate students from various fields of study were in attendance throughout the afternoon as the airport saw more people once the weather cleared up.

Kent State junior journalism major Portia Booker said her favorite parts of the day were flying in the single-engine plane as well as talking to war veterans.

“I thought it was a little bit shaky, but just to ride in a small Cessna plane is a lot different than riding in a commercial jet,” Booker said. “I also enjoyed looking at planes and talking to some of the people who were war vets and their experiences while flying.”

Contact Andrew Bugel at [email protected]