Aviation fair flies through rainout

John Hitch

Chuck Delaney, a member of the Tri-City Skybusters Rocketry Club, stands in front of the club’s booth yesterday at the Aviation Heritage Fair. Daniel Owen | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors


Two Ohio institutions clashed on the wet runway at Andrew Paton Field in Stow yesterday. Unfortunately for the organizers of the 2007 Aviation Heritage Fair, the ever-looming bad weather defeated Kent State’s Aeronautics Division with a technical rainout.

For the second year in row, bad weather canceled the morning hot air balloon launch. Heavy cloud-cover also grounded the airplane rides, and deterred NASA from delivering a replica of the Wright Brothers’ history-making Flyer.

The sun finally broke through long enough for two crowd-pleasing F-15 fly-bys, piloted by Kent State alumni based out of Cape Cod, Mass.

A few helicopters also dotted the sky in the late afternoon, carrying passengers willing to pay the $30 fee.

Generating $7,000 in 2006, the primary profit generator for the Stow-Munroe Falls Kiwanis Club failed to attract the impressive turnout of its predecessor.

While 25,000 aviation enthusiasts flocked to the event last year, only 15,000 dared to grab umbrellas and come to this year’s incarnation.

Despite the drizzly conditions, the optimistic eyes of Isaac Richmond Nettey, associate dean of the College of Technology and senior program director of aeronautics, found the silver lining on the gray day.

“The turnout has been very encouraging . because in spite of the weather, over 1,000 people have (come) here before ten in the morning.” Nettey said during the morning showers. “More (are) streaming in as the day wears on.”

Many of those die-hard supporters made the trip to the Kent State Airport to see the historic attraction even Mother Nature could not overwhelm. The B-17 “Flying Fortress” restored by the Yankee Air Force from Michigan drew constant attention from the crowd.

Jack Joy, retired Air Force pilot and advisory board member for the fair, flew a similar aircraft 34 times over Germany, bravely laying siege to Nazi targets during World War II.

He enjoyed seeing the bomber on display, even though the civilian-use plane’s airframe never absorbed the flak Joy’s did.

The Yankee Air Force version, built at the tail-end of the war, spent duty putting out wildfires in Arizona and spotting icebergs for the Coast Guard before eventually finding its way to the Yankee Air Museum, which spent more than $300,000 on renovation.

Joy continues to add to the legacy of American aviation by sponsoring Philip Oskey, senior flight technology major. He beamed with pride when speaking of Oskey’s rise through the Kent State aeronautics division.

“It’s important to Kent and to Stow,” Joy said of the only accredited program of its kind in Ohio.

Jessica Groves, sophomore flight technology major and newly licensed private pilot, benefited from the day’s primary goal, which is raising money for the Stow Kiwanis Aviation School Program Scholarship, an annual award for a Kent State flight technology major. Funds also go toward two scholarships to Stow-Munroe Falls High School students.

Groves, who also works maintenance at the airport and is a member of the of the Kent State chapter of Women in Aviation, the Flying Black Squirrels, received $1,000 to help defray the cost of the program’s high tuition fees.

“Jessica’s commitment to aviation was appropriately recognized, rewarded and encouraged by her selection,” Nettey said.

Contact College of Technology reporter John Hitch at [email protected].