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Editorial: Columbus Aviation Day should be regular event

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As marketing ideas go, Aviation Day was a home run.

The June 7 event at Columbus Municipal Airport drew nearly 4,000 people, set a runway record for takeoffs and landings, and drew the most single-day visitors to the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum.

The original idea was to educate residents about the airport, its features and benefits to the community. What Aviation Day became was a full-blown tourist attraction that surpassed organizers’ estimations for what the inaugural event would accomplish. The hope was that 1,000 people would attend.

Members of the organizing committee are taking a breather before conducting a post-event review and deciding whether to have another Aviation Day next year.

We hope they decide to make it a regular event.

Aviation Day attendance clearly showed that there’s an appetite for this type of entertainment. People had a chance to ride in a vintage World War II B-17 plane, small commuter airplanes, helicopters and a hot-air balloon. Visitors could tour the airport’s terminal and enjoy its restaurant and the newly renovated airport museum. The event also featured children’s activities and a vendors market.

The success of the first year arguably would support an enhanced version in 2015. Adding an air show likely would expand interest beyond the region. The sky is the limit.

Columbus has an opportunity to establish another signature event, like it is doing with the Mill Race Marathon. The benefit to the community could be significant.

But a few more volunteers are needed.

Airport director Brian Payne said that Aviation Day required a ton of work, and he had to put some airport projects on hold to make sure the event came together. Payne said having more people volunteer their time to organize the event would make future Aviation Days more likely.

Let’s hope the organizing committee plans another Aviation Day next year, and more people pitch in so this event can really take off.

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