Families learned about local aviation while kids received free flights above the surrounding regions during this year’s Airport Appreciation Day.
The Arlington Municipal Airport held its annual Airport Appreciation Day on Sept. 19.
Kids enjoyed the simulators, bouncy houses, face painting and more at the event.
Airport coordinator Tim Mensonides said the event lets people come into the airport and know it better.
“It really shows how important the airport is to the community. We want to let them see what we do here,” he said.
Airport director David Ryan said the event is good for both the community and the airport.
“The airport is a huge part of this town’s history. It’s fun for us and it’s great for the community,” he said.
The Arlington Municipal Airport also serves as a big economic asset to the city as well, he said.
Parent Laura Strunk liked the event for “getting them [Strunk’s kids] involved in airplanes and learning about it,” she said.
Of course, one of the biggest attractions for the day is the Young Eagles flights, which are free flights in small aircraft given to kids.
“I think it’s awesome. The kids get to go up in the air and otherwise you would have to pay to go up there,” said Strunk.
“We’re just trying to introduce young people to general aviation,” said Jim McGauhey, a pilot with the Young Eagles organization.
McGauhey said the organization formed with the goal of flying a million kids to celebrate the anniversary of the Wright brothers’ flight.
“After the Wright brothers’ anniversary came and went, they said ‘well, what do we do now?'” he said, adding the organization continued providing flights for kids.
McGauhey said he enjoys helping give kids free flights.
“I have no reason to own an airplane. It’s recreational flying for me, so I look for excuses to fly and flying Young Eagles and sharing flight is a wonderful thing. Most people have never seen what it looks like from 1500 or 2000 feet up in the sky,” he said.
The organization has been operating for more than 20 years now and about 7 percent of all pilots got their start at the Young Eagles, he said.
Although the organization didn’t set out to make pilots, it has helped many people he said.
“Once in a while I get someone coming back saying ‘you know, this was a life-changing thing, and I didn’t know I wanted to be a pilot until I went on this,'” he said.
People like current airport intern Lorene Parker who said her first flight was with the Young Eagles.
“I think it’s great that the Young Eagles volunteer their time to get young people into aviation,” she said.
Ryan wanted to thank the Young Eagles and all the volunteers who help put on the event. “None of these people get paid to do this stuff,” he said, adding the airport has also received support from people and local aviation companies to make the event happen.