Saturday, May 17, 2014

Aviation buffs share their love of flying: St. Clair County International Airport (KPHN), Port Huron, Michigan


Ivan Smith recalls watching World War II fighters and other airplanes soar above the small dairy farm in Webberville where he grew up and longing to dance “the skies on laughter-silvered wings.” 

As a senior in college, the Port Huron Township man said, “I took an airplane ride, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Smith and other members of Blue Water Chapter 979 of the Experimental Aircraft Association were sharing their passion for aviation on Saturday at the St. Clair County International Airport in Kimball Township. They were giving free flying lessons and rides to anyone who signed up for a $25 one-year membership in the organization.

Brittany Johnson, 19, of Richmond, took her first lesson from flight instructor Skipper Steffens, of Casco Township.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It was fun.”

Her two younger sisters, Emily, 8, and Alyssa, 10, watched from the ground with their mom, Ernestine, as Brittany soared above the trees.

“She’s going to be so excited,” Ernestine Johnson said. “It’s going to make her year, that’s for sure.”

Smith said the purpose of Learn to Fly Day, and a similar program called Young Eagles for ages 8 to 17, is to introduce people to aviation.

Aviation boomed after World War II, but that generation is aging, Smith said, and fewer people are following in those footsteps.

“There’s a number of reasons for it,” he said. “One, I think, it’s expensive.

“Two, there’s so many other things people can do to occupy themselves.”

John Neil, of Port Huron Township, is learning to fly after years spent piloting radio-controlled model aircraft.

“I love aviation,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, and this is a step up from my radio-controlled planes.

“It’s exhilarating. There’s something about being up in the air.”

Story, photo and video:

No comments:

Post a Comment