Recognizing a robust aviation industry is key for a community’s economic well-being and tourist industry, Destination Gettysburg is supporting efforts by the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association (M-ASA) to expand awareness of flying opportunities in Adams County.
A grant of $1,000 from Destination Gettysburg is supporting two upcoming events that will enable the public to learn more about soaring and opportunities in aviation.
An open house will be held at the Fairfield Airport, 154 Pecher Road, Fairfield, on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. M-ASA gliders, as well as a few privately-owned vintage aircraft will be on display.
Glider rides will be offered throughout the day at discount prices, and seminars conducted on various topics in both morning and afternoon sessions. The “Truly Unruly” band, which includes one of M-ASA’s flight instructors, will perform an eclectic assortment of music throughout the day.
A raffle from 10 to 11 a.m. will provide attendees the chance to win a 20-minute ride over southern Adams County for $10. Hot dogs and other fare will be available at modest prices and guests may also bring their own picnic lunches.
There is no charge for admission or parking on the airport grounds. Any net income from lunch sales and glider rides will go to M-ASA’s youth scholarship fund, which enables young persons to learn to fly at very modest rates.
In the event of inclement weather, the open house will be held on Sunday, Aug. 25 during the same hours.
Local area resident John Machamer, a pilot for American Airlines who flies internationally, will talk about “Glider Flying as One Gateway to an Aviation Career.” When not flying the big jets overseas Machamer is M-ASA’s chief tow pilot who trains aviators to get the gliders aloft. Two of the Machamer children, Chet and Amanda, are Air Force C-130 pilots who first learned to fly locally in small aircraft.
Machamer will describe the current scene of unprecedented opportunities available to those who aspire to work as pilots, air traffic controllers, aircraft mechanics or in other aviation-related occupations.
David McVeigh, an attorney who practices law in York, has been a long-time M-ASA member. Like many in the club, he flies his own glider on weekends. M-ASA’s membership chair, McVeigh will offer an introductory seminar on “The Art and Science of Soaring” and be available for conversation with anyone interested in joining the flying club.
The other major aviation-related group in Adams County is Chapter 1041 of the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA), better known as the Gettysburg Barnstormers. EAA leaders also will be on hand at Fairfield to introduce visitors to their organization’s efforts to promote aviation.
Robert Howe of Hanover heads local EAA efforts to introduce aviation topics in area high schools and vocational training programs. A former air traffic controller, Howe’s seminar on “Aviation Education, Cleared for Takeoff” will describe national and local initiatives to stimulate broader interest in flying for fun or as a profession.
In October, M-ASA will host a regional glider flying contest that annually brings to the Fairfield airport some of the nation’s best competition pilots. The aviators engage in daily “tasks” that challenge them to outdo each other in completing a selected course in the shortest time.
Organizing this year’s contest is Karen Machamer of Gettysburg. She is grateful for Destination Gettysburg’s support for the event, which will enable the local flying club to host a banquet for the pilots and their crew members and introduce them to some of Adams County’s tourist attractions during their weeklong stay in the area.
Expressing M-ASA’s appreciation for the support from the tourism promoting agency, Machamer said, “It’s wonderful that Destination Gettysburg is supporting organizations that demonstrate there’s more than just history offered in our community.”
Destination’s Gettysburg’s president, Norris Flowers, has a grandson who has begun training to become a professional pilot. Flowers indicated his enthusiasm for M-ASA’s efforts, which he believes can help attract more visitors to the area.
Explaining the organization’s decision to offer financial support for the upcoming events, Flowers said, “We’re happy to support events that bring new visitors to the area, as well as involving those who are already in Adams County.”
A Pennsylvania Department of Transportation study of aviation’s impact in communities revealed that over 10 percent of tourists arrive at airports throughout the state on private aircraft. Upwards of $25 billion in annual economic activity throughout the commonwealth is generated by the aviation industry.
Michael Cooper-White, who is M-ASA’s secretary and also a member of the Barnstormers, pilots gliders and is a flight instructor in single-engine aircraft. Joining Machamer in expressing thanks for Destination Gettysburg’s support, he said, “We’re eager to do all we can in working with community leaders to seize the current opportunities in aviation and encourage young people who aspire to flying careers that the sky’s the limit.”