By Emily Weaver
After a successful 50th anniversary event in 2011, organizers of the second Aviation Day and Runway 5K race opened the gates at Asheville Regional Airport Saturday morning to a large crowd of spectators and participants.
More than 700 runners were ready for take-off by 9:30 a.m., sprinting down the airport’s runway – all 8,001 feet of it – on a race to finish before the planes hit the tarmac. At 10 a.m., crowds filed into the event’s arena near the runway where big planes, small planes, military and antique aircraft waited with open doors.
Inside hangar No. 6, 5-year-old Caden Hoppensteadt folded a paper airplane, preparing his new craft for its first flight. Volunteers from Hands On! A Child’s Gallery on Main Street inHendersonville, coached the paper plane engineers to aeronautical success.
Siblings Donald Shrader, 10, Reese Shrader, 7, and Claire Shrader, 11, took turns climbing into the close-confined cockpit of a glider. Highway Patrol troowrs W. M. Stamey and J. L. Deal introduced spectators to their Patrol helicopter used to keep an eagle eye on cars in a chase.
Two-year-old Finn Hayden delighted in twirling his new flying helicopter mounted on a stick, while families signed up for 15-minute, fly-about leaf tours with the Western North Carolina Pilot’s Association. Proceeds raised from Aviation Day benefitted the Pilot Association’s scholarship fund for local students.
Adults marveled in some of the history and large engines on display.
Out near the taxiway, 3-year-old Austin Dellinger, sitting on the shoulders of his father, Adam Dellinger, reached up to touch the propeller of a North Carolina Army National Guard black hawk helicopter.
“Propellers are big,” Austin exclaimed.