RUSH TOWNSHIP A massive Vietnam-era transport plane. Candy-colored Cessnas. Bright red barnstormers. Shiny silver aircraft handbuilt by their enthusiastic owners. Something that looked like a go-cart with wings. All of them were on the tarmac at Mid-State Regional Airport on Saturday.
The airport hosted its annual summer event, a fly-in airplane show on the runways coupled with a drive-in car show in the parking lot, with a huge crowd of fans young and old.
Retired veterans, such as Martin Williams, of Johnstown, ran hands gingerly over the old C- 123K, a plane he had last seen as a Marine in Khe Sanh, Vietnam. Today, the plane is part of the small fleet of Air Heritage Inc., a nonprofit whose planes act as mobile museums bringing the history of flight from its Beaver County base to the public throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Don Mansfield, of Air Heritage, was on hand to answer questions as visitors climbed in to look at the cockpit, or buckle kids into the transports red harnesses to imagine their own Air Force missions.
Its just so ... whoa, said Aiden Williams, 7, trying to reach the nose of the plane.
That childhood love of airplanes isnt something everyone outgrows. Scott Rake, of Clearfield, first learned to fly helicopters in Latrobe 15 years ago, then went on to pick up airplane aviation closer to home more recently. The red aeronautic Pitts biplane he flew Saturday is a serious machine, but its also a big-boy toy.
Its just so much fun, he said of flying.
And for others, the fun is as much in the machines themselves as the flight. Dave Storey, of Shrewsbury, touched down in a nickel-bright Sonex he custom built from a kit. The craft is listed as experimental, a label Storey says is given to anything not built by a manufacturer. This is the third aircraft, but it is the first hes built for aerobatics, the air-show favorite of high flying mechanical gymnastics.
Theyre a lot of fun. I do like it, said Storeys co-pilot, Judy Lang.