Military veterans will be honored during this year’s Aviation Day at Columbus Municipal Airport, with tributes paid to two Columbus men for their contributions.

Aviation Day, now in its fifth year, is a free event designed to expose people to aviation and showcase the airport, airport director Brian Payne said. An estimated 7,000 people are expected to attend the June 9 event, which will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Payne said.

This year’s Aviation Day event, “American Heroes Edition,” will honor John Walter, a longtime volunteer with the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum, who died Dec. 12 in Columbus at age 96.

Walter was in the Army Air Corps and flew 35 combat missions over Germany as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot.

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The Indiana native’s connection to Columbus began in 1949 when he moved to the city to join Cummins Engine Co. The engineer held positions in Product and Manufacturing Engineering, Production, Research and International divisions. Walter served as chairman of the Cummins Technical Publication Policy Committee and hung the “Exploding Engine” display, created by Rudolph de Harak, in the lobby of the Cummins world headquarters.

After retiring from Cummins, Walter began volunteering for the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum, which opened in 1992 and marked its 25th anniversary last year.

Aviation Day organizers also plan to honor Sgt. Jonathon M. Hunter, a Columbus East High School graduate who died in Afghanistan during his first military deployment overseas. Hunter, who graduated from East in 2011 and was a sergeant in the U.S. Army, was killed Aug. 2, 2017, during an attack on a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan.

“The whole day is honoring military veterans,” Payne said.

Payne also said a military aerial demonstration is planned during Aviation Day, which will feature old military planes on display. Attendees also will have an opportunity to hop aboard a B-17 plane that will be available at the event, he said.

Young Eagle Flights will make a return this year and provide free airplane rides to children ages 8 to 17. Military helicopters and airplanes also will be on display, while food vendors and children’s activities such as a bounce house will also be offered.

Aviation Nation, a local after-school program that gives high school students an opportunity to learn how to build an airplane, will also participate Students from Columbus North, Columbus East and CSA New Tech high schools will show off progress on building of a plane expected to be completed in July, Payne said.

If you go

What: Aviation Day “American Heroes Edition”

When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 9

Where: Columbus Municipal Airport, 4770 Ray Boll Boulevard

Cost: Admission is free

More information: 812-376-2519

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or