Friday, May 8, 2015

Contest: Winning child can fly

DAYTON — The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has announced its second annual essay contest in conjunction with the Vectren Dayton Air Show.

The deadline to enter is 5 p.m., June 1.

Children 8-17, who are no taller than 6-foot, 3-inches, and who weigh no more than 250 pounds, and who have never flown in anything smaller than a commercial plane, are eligible to enter to win a flight in a two-seat, single-engine, 300L plane piloted by Sean Tucker.

Tucker is an internationally famous aerobatic pilot and honorary chairman of EAA’s Young Eagles program. The flight will take place, weather permitting, during the morning of June 18 at the Dayton International Airport site of the air show.

Contest participants must be between the ages of 8 and 17 by June 18. To enter, each must write an essay of no less than 100 word and no more than 300 words about one of two topics: “What I Imagine My First Airplane Ride Will Be Like” or “What This Flight Will Mean to Me.”

The winner, along with a parent or legal guardian, must be available and at the airfield by 9:30 a.m. Weather permitting, the event will end by about 10:30 a.m. The winner must consent to media interviews to promote the air show.

Essays must be typed in Ariel or Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced, with a 1-inch margin on all sides and indented paragraphs.

They can be submitted online at by choosing “Young Eagles Flight.” They can be mailed to arrive by 5 p.m., June 1, to Vectren Dayton Air Show, My First Airplane Ride Essays, 3800 Wright Drive, Vandalia, OH 45377.

Original article can be found here:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Timmonsville, South Carolina: Sonny Huggins exemplified life as a pilot

A cropduster sits at Huggins Memorial Airpark on May 2 in Timmonsville. Like his father, Sonny Huggins cropdusted for years before transitioning to working as a pilot for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. – When you live at an airport – whether it’s by choice, some feeling of obligation or a little bit of both – flying works its way deeply into your life. Death, too.

M. B. “Sonny” Huggins III passed away Feb. 14 in a Myrtle Beach hospital. Family members were close by, including his wife of 30 years, Bettie.

“My son looked at me and he said, when he [Sonny] drew his last breath: ‘Momma, it’s 2:10,’ ” Bettie said.

The significance of the time was immediately evident to the loved ones. It was a fitting nod to Sonny’s favorite airplane, the Cessna 210.

Sonny was a pilot through and through. He made his first solo flight when he was 11. His 17,546 flight hours add up to more than two years in the air. He and Bettie got married while in flight. 

“He was something,” Bettie said. “He was my best friend.”

The grass-stripped Huggins Memorial Airpark – described by author, journalist and pilot Bill Walker as “long on flying history and short on formality” – handles a combination of recreational pilots and crop-dusters.

Planes sit under corrugated metal hangars, or are secured to concrete pads outdoors. Vines creep into the cockpit of a propeller-less Cessna, parked in a stand of trees.

The airport was founded in 1931 or 1937 (there is some debate) by Sonny’s father, “Dusty,” who earned his nickname during the early days of cropdusting, first in Louisiana, then South Carolina, North Dakota and Minnesota.

“He was usually covered in dust,” Sonny wrote in a biography of his father. “Where his goggles covered his eyes would be the only place not covered in the white dust.”

Dusty would fly in Santa Claus for Timmonsville’s Christmas Parade, a tradition that Sonny kept up after his father passed away.

Also like his father, Sonny worked for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division as a pilot. For 28 years, he spotted liquor stills, fleeing suspects, missing persons and marijuana plants from the air.

“I just want to fly until I can’t do it anymore,” Sonny told Walker in 2005.

In a few weeks, Bettie hopes to give Sonny one final opportunity to fly, during a celebration of life service where his ashes will be spread from his favorite airplane.

Original article can be found here: