Airport Extravaganza a high-flying success
Posted: Monday, September 13, 2010 10:06 pm
The Messenger 09.13.10
By JOHN BRANNON
Dan Tindall of Sumter, S.C., has a story within a story about the 7th annual Airport Extravaganza held at Everett-Stewart Regional Airport Sunday.
Tindall and his buddy, Harold Ewing of Columbia, S.C., are pilots. They brought a 1944-era C-45 plane to the show. The Special Forces Parachute Team rendered a spectacular show of their own at the opening of the CornFest event.
“The plane had several different functions in its day,” Tindall said. “It could carry five passengers. One function was passenger transport.”
Tindall said he and Ewing were at the Tennessee Air Museum two years ago when an old fellow walked up and engaged them in conversation.
“He said the last time he was on one of these planes was when he was being transported to Bethesda (Naval Hospital) from the Philippines. He had survived the Bataan death march.”
The “march” took place in 1942 in the Philippines. Japanese invaders force-marched about 75,000 U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war on a 60-mile journey that left thousands dead.
“It was kind of an emotional moment for him,” Tindall said.
One of many
The C-45 and its crew were typical of the eye-catching aircraft and aviation enthusiasts at the Air Extravaganza, which is part of the CornFest celebration now under way.
Airport manager Jo Ann Speer estimated the crowd at about 2,000. Although the show began at 1 p.m., it was still bumper to bumper traffic at 2 p.m. on the road leading to the airport. Traffic managers collected a $5 fee from each vehicle with part going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Mrs. Speer said $1 of the fee goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and $4 to CornFest to help fund the air show. “We’ll use part of it for next year’s show,” she said.
During an interview before the show began, she was understandably excited about the event.
What was the main event?
“How do you call something the main event on such an awesome day?” she replied. “There is so much — the Special Forces Skydiving Team; the Flagship Detroit, the DC-3 which we’ve never had here before; Greg Koontz from Alabama who flies a Piper Cub and lands on the back of a pickup truck. I could go on and on. This show has a lot to offer.”
Thanks to all
Dr. Chris Gooch, chairman of the Everett-Stewart Regional Airport Commission, addressed the attendees, many of whom brought folding chairs for personal comfort. He thanked them for coming.
“We want to thank the Lord for this weather,” he said. “It’s beautiful. Couldn’t ask for better weather.”
Gooch then gave the crowd an update on the construction taking place on the airport main runway, which is being extended from 5,000 to 6,500 feet.
He estimated it will be finished in about 60 days.