Despite a few raindrops, the third annual AOPA Wings ‘n Wheels on May 5 at Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland was the biggest yet, drawing an estimated 6,500 people, an increase of more than 50 percent compared to the previous year.
Wings ‘n Wheels attendees got to choose their favorite classic or show car, motorcycle, and aircraft in a People’s Choice Award. Nearly 100 cars as well as dozens of motorcycles and aircraft were on display in the competition.
Besides the bikes, cars, and airplanes, Wings ‘n Wheels had an extensive Kid’s Zone with moon bounces and face painting. The event also featured live music and numerous local food options including Presenting Sponsor Chick-fil-A Frederick North, Bruster’s Ice Cream, Capital Chicken and Waffles, and more.
AOPA Senior Vice President of Media, Communications, and Outreach Tom Haines said, “Wings ’n Wheels continues to grow, bringing more of the Frederick community to our airport to learn more about what it does for our city and maybe even sign up for a discovery flight.”
According to a 2015 report issued by the Maryland Aviation Administration, Frederick’s airport is responsible for 1,059 jobs, $110 million in business revenue, and more than $6 million in state and local taxes.
“These are the types of events that we encourage our members and volunteers to organize at their own airports to facilitate community involvement and show people how accessible aviation can be,” Haines continued.
The B–25 Mitchell Panchito was at Wings ’n Wheels offering attendees a taste of history as well as rides.
Carl Molter Jr., a Frederick local who came to Wings ’n Wheels for a ride in Panchito to celebrate his ninety-sixth birthday, served as an Army combat medic in World War II. Molter said, “At my age you have to try everything and most of my war was in the mud and on the ground.”
Another World War II veteran, Joe Bigley, also got a flight on Panchito. Now 92, the former B–17 and B–24 ball turret gunner recounted a bombing mission over Iwo Jima that left his aircraft heavily damaged by enemy fire. With no hydraulics and leaking fuel, the crew jettisoned the guns, ammunition, and any extra weight. They then secured four parachutes to various gun mounts to serve as brakes after landing, and according to Bigley it worked.
When asked if he was looking forward to the B–25 flight at Wings ’n Wheels, Bigley responded, “Yes, and you’ll never know how much.”
Three Frederick flight schools, Advanced Helicopter Concepts, Bravo Flight Training, and Frederick Flight Center, sponsored Wings ’n Wheels and raffled discovery flights.
Brenda Tibbs, founder of Bravo Flight Training, said, “I love the Wings ’n Wheels event. It was because of a similar experience I learned that I could learn to fly at our local airport!” Tibbs was named Best Flight Instructor in AOPA’s 2016 Flight Training Poll.
The AOPA Sweepstakes Super Cub also was on display. Members who want a closer look at what could potentially be their next aircraft can see it at AOPA’s four Regional Fly-ins and the AOPA Campus at EAA AirVenture.