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Aviation Day takes flight

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About 3,800 people visited Columbus Municipal Airport’s Aviation Day, a crowd about four times larger than organizers expected.

A runway record was set, along with the highest single-day attendance at the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum.

The air traffic control tower staff documented 834 takeoffs and landings at the June 7 event, exceeding the previous record of 530 set in August 2013, Airport Director Brian Payne said.


Aviation Day visitors could ride in a vintage World War II B-17, small commuter aircraft, helicopters and even a hot-air balloon. Visitors were invited to explore the airport terminal, restaurant and the newly renovated aviation museum, Payne said.

The museum had 350 visitors sign in, but Payne said workers think more than 1,000 people actually walked through that day. “They also did $350 in merchandise sales,” he said.

Blackerby’s Hangar Five, the airport restaurant that provided much of the food for the event, ran out of some food items because of the turnout, assistant airport manager Carlos Laverty said.

Organizers had hoped for about 1,000 people at the event, Payne said.

But they got an inkling of high interest when 150 people came in the day before Aviation Day just to get a glimpse of the newly arrived World War II B-17.

About 50 volunteers helped at the 12-hour event, airport office manager Melinda Finley said.

With all the interest, airport officials are starting to think about repeating Aviation Day next year, Payne said.

That decision won’t be made until the airport’s aviation commission discusses last weekend’s event, which will likely occur Tuesday during a meeting at the airport, Payne said.

“I just couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome,” he said. “There are so many people in the community that have said ‘When are you going to do it next year? We can’t wait!’”

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