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Celebrating our favorite ways to get around

A beautiful and bright early-autumn day in eastern Virginia attracted more than 1,000 people to the twenty-sixth annual Wings, Wheels and Keels event.

  • A family takes advantage of beautiful weather to walk the flight line near a 1946 Aeronca Champ owned by David Grow during the Wings, Wheels and Keels airplane, car, and boat show at Hummel Field near Topping, Virginia. Photo by David Tulis.
  • An experimental L–4 liaison aircraft built by Thomas Morris in 1992 and currently owned by David Nance of Quinton, Virginia, draws attention. Photo by David Tulis.
  • The Wings, Wheels and Keels event attracted aviators, auto enthusiasts, and boaters on September 25. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A restored Chevrolet SS Chevelle muscle car outfitted with a V-8 engine is on display with other classic cars during the Wings, Wheels and Keels event. Photo by David Tulis.
  • An attendee snaps a photo of a 1930 Cadillac V-16 All-Weather Phaeton. The 185-horsepower model was introduced for the 1930 New York Auto Show and this example is one of 250 built. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Brent Weathered sits near his 1949 Cessna 170 with a factory-original paint scheme. Photo by David Tulis.
  • David Grow of Gloucester Point, Virginia, displays an Aeronca Champ in unusual but original factory colors. Grow, 75, and his older brother Dick, 89, frequently fly together. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A tribute to the late Dr. David Nichols, known to many Virginians as Dr. Copter because of his medical philanthropy flying a helicopter to treat patients on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, is posted at Hummel Field. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Virginia Department of Aviation Ambassadors show off their newly earned leather flying jackets. Photo by David Tulis.

More than 30 general aviation aircraft, dozens of vintage automobiles, and a variety of watercraft adorned the annual event at Hummel Field on the banks of the Rappahannock River in Topping, Virginia.

A highlight of the September 25 event for pilots was the ceremonial presentation of personalized leather jackets to the latest graduates of the Virginia Aviation Ambassadors program. The eight pilots celebrated at the event brought the number to more than 570 aviators who have completed a tour of all 64 public-use airports in Virginia since the initiative was started in 2005.

Among those receiving a commemorative jacket was Steve Bateman, AOPA You Can Fly senior director of flying clubs, who completed his personal air tour of Virginia over the past few years.

“The best of general aviation is seen at local airports and the aviation communities based there,” said Bateman. “Each airport has its special characteristics, which makes this program and visiting all of the airports so special. We are also excited that the local aviation community is forming its own flying club at Hummel, making aviation more in reach for area pilots.”

Officials also took advantage of the event to address a long-term plan to benefit pilots and their neighboring community.

“Right off our 01 Runway is a neighborhood of homes that has not been happy with overhead airplanes,” said Mark Flynn, director of the Virginia Department of Aviation. “However, our airport community has been working with the Department of Aviation and a local developer who actually lives there to not only extend the runway, but move its orientation five degrees to the east. That way, departing pilots would be taken over the water instead of houses, keeping the noise down.”

The proposed project, which is still a few years away from fruition, would extend what is considered now Virginia’s shortest paved runway at 2,167 feet. Even without the extension, Hummel continues to lure pilots attracted to the airport’s waterside location and welcoming aviation community.

AOPA and Hummel Field share a special connection through the late Dr. David Nichols, known to many Virginians as Dr. Copter. A permanent granite memorial is on display at Hummel Field honoring Nichols for his medical philanthropy, flying a helicopter to treat patients on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. The memorial was dedicated in 2014 by AOPA President Mark Baker.

Alyssa J. Miller

Eric Blinderman

Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.
Topics: Events, Fly in

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