CHENANGO COUNTY — The annual Chenango County Airport Day at the Lt. Warren E. Eaton Airport in Norwich is returning after a two year hiatus due to COVID. The event will be held from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, and feature a slew of activities and education for those interested in all things aircraft.
"Airport Day is a community event where we try our best to get the community up to the airport to see all we have to offer," said Chenango County Airport Administrator Shane Butler. "We try and connect the airport and careers with STEM educations, so we work with BOCES. Really getting people involved with airport and aviation careers, connecting the community to our airport."
According to Butler, the day will kick off with a fly-in breakfast, where local aviators are welcome to fly their planes into the airport to enjoy the brunch and lunch menu offered by the Smoke Out BBQ food truck. Non-pilots are invited to drive up to the airport for breakfast as well.
"If we have pilots that are around the area that want to fly in and park their aircraft and walk around that’s awesome. The more planes we have up there for people to look at, the better," he said. "We invite them to come. Like I know I have an individual that contacted me yesterday with a helicopter that said, ‘hey I’m looking to come in, where do I park?’”
Throughout the day, the Lt. Warren E. Eaton Airport will be bustling with professionals from every area of the aviation field, including DCMO BOCES with information on their Career Destinations program and Air Patrol program, Air Force recruiters, and Mohawk Valley Community College with their Air Frame program.
Several demonstrations are also on the docket for Airport Day. The New York State Police will give a K9 demonstration and are bringing their car crash simulator, a LifeNet helicopter will demonstrate a fly-in, and Just Jump Skydiving, a family owned and operated skydiving company located at the Lt. Warren E. Eaton Airport, will be giving a skydiving demonstration.
"It’s a husband and wife team with their son, and I’m assuming that’s going to be them jumping," said Butler. "It’s just another opportunity to show like, hey, we have this business up here, this is what they do. If you didn't know that already, here's an opportunity for someone to check off their bucket list and jump out of an airplane for no good reason."
For those who want to get more involved in the action, Butler said the National Warplane Museum is bringing their C-47 WWII warplane, or Whiskey 7, and their BT-13, which is a WWII basic trainer plane.
Attendees can register ahead of time to take a ride in the C-47 at nationalwarplanemuseum.com/rides. Flights on the C-47 are $150 per person, ages eight and up. Children aged eight to 17 must be accompanied by a parent. To book a ride on the BT-13, call 716-830-3051.
Additionally, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will be attending Airport Day and offering free plane rides to children aged eight to 17, with parental permission.
"The EAA is a group, it’s like a volunteer organization dedicated to aviation, and they have their own personal planes or ones that they’ve rented or leased from another organization. They’re all experienced pilots," said Butler.
He said pilots will discuss their scholarship program and how the airplane works before taking participating kids for a flight in one of their planes. They may even take special requests to fly to specific areas.
"It’s really just up to the pilot depending on where they want to go. Sometimes they’ll take special requests, like if they know the kid lives on East Main Street or something like that, or out by Chenango Lake, they might take a trip out there," said Butler. "But it’s really just up to the pilot themselves and what they discuss with whoever’s taking the ride, or the parents."
Admission and parking is completely free for the event, and many activities are weather permitting. Butler said Airport Day is meant to be a fun and educational experience, where Chenango County residents can learn about all the opportunities available at an airport.
"There’s always this thought, I guess, that the airport only serves the one percent of people in Chenango County that can afford planes, and we try to kind of debate that in many ways," he said. "We’ve just got a whole slew of different things. Like I said, it really revolves around STEM education, because obviously there’s so many different things, whether it be weather related, all the aircraft, science, engineering. There’s just so many opportunities at an airport."
Chenango County Aircraft Day is made possible by local sponsors, including NBT Bank, La Bella Salon, Burrell's Excavating, Commerce Chenango, the Pennysaver, and C&S Companies.
More information on Chenango County Airport Day can be found on the Lt. Warren E. Eaton Airport Facebook page, and at www.co.chenango.ny.us/airport.