Youngsters getting their first taste of flight shared a stretch of runway Saturday with military veterans putting a museum piece back into the air.
“I think it was awesome,” 8-year-old Ryan Marquiss of Chambersburg, Pa., said once his feet were back on the ground at Hagerstown Regional Airport. “I was a little scared at first, but it was awesome.”
Marquiss took a ride in a modern private plane thanks to pilot Chuck Perry of Ashburn, Va. Perry said Marquiss sat in the plane’s other front seat.
“He really enjoyed it,” Perry said. “I had him go ahead and hang onto the controls.”
A little earlier, two former military pilots, Larry Pedersen and Randy Cupit, both of Waynesboro, Pa., were all smiles as they clambered into a 1943 Fairchild PT-19. The two-seater aircraft, which was used to train pilots, was built at Fairchild’s Hagerstown operation.
“This is great,” said Pedersen, who took the lead set. “Who has an opportunity to fly a World War II airplane? Plus, it’s a beautifully flying airplane. Fairchild really did a good job with it.”
Marquiss, Perry, Pederson and Cupit were among those who turned out for a public morning at the airport Saturday.
Youths like Marquiss could take advantage of the Young Eagles event, sponsored by Chapter 36 of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Perry and three other pilots brought their private planes to the airport and took youths age 8-17 on free flights. Each flight averaged about 15 minutes.
“Part of the idea is to help grow the aviation community,” said Ray Franze of Spring Mills, W.Va., the Chapter 36 president.
Along with the flight, the association gave each youngster information and materials to help them get started on pursuing a pilot’s license, he said.
The Young Eagles events are held from April to October.
“We try to do it once a month, weather permitting,” Franze said.
The group also offered a pancake breakfast as a fundraiser on Saturday morning, he said.
Meanwhile, the Hagerstown Aviation Museum had some of its 22 aircraft on display, said museum President John Seburn. People could take in some of the museum’s exhibits. The museum also offered rides in its Fairchild PT-19.
“(The day) also promotes the airport and brings people out to the airport,” Seburn said.