An annual celebration of aviation in Imperial County, California, drew a large number of local residents to the Imperial County Airport, where pilots gave airplane rides to about 150 area youngsters, then repeated the process in an impromptu series of rides for enthusiastic adult volunteers.
Imperial’s Aviation Day, designed to combine "flying, family, and fun," took place on Jan. 17 at the southern California airport about 90 miles east of San Diego.
Those who pitched in to ensure a smoothly running event included “lots of very highly qualified volunteers” from area U.S. Navy installations, including a Blue Angels ground-support team, and aircraft handlers from the nearby El Centro Naval Air Facility, said AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Dennis Logue, who is also a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Logue served as the 2015 Aviation Day chairman.
"We even taught one of the Blue Angels Team how to hand prop a Taylorcraft," he wrote in an email account of the event. "He was a little timid at first, but by the fourth pull he got it going and all the ground crew applauded."
The presence of such uniquely qualified ground support personnel lent near-military precision to flight operations when event pilots took to the skies for introductory flights for local kids, Logue added.
And contrary to expectations, the flying didn’t end there. After one of the military crewmembers inquired if it would be possible to take a ride in a Piper aircraft, "We cranked Ops up again and flew all of the adult volunteers from the Navy folks to the airport administrators," Logue said.
Much of the fun was captured in more than 500 photographs posted on the event’s Facebook page.