Rows of airplanes displayed across the tarmac at North Vernon Municipal Airport had Matt Fordice’s undivided attention.
The North Vernon boy pulled his father, Wyatt Fordice, and their friend, Elizabeth Meadows, from plane to plane Aug. 17 to show them what he considered so interesting during Airport Awareness Day.
“He just can’t get enough of this,” Wyatt Fordice said as he tried to catch up with Matt.
The free, daylong event began with a 5-kilometer run along the newly improved runways at the airport, which is nestled amid the woodlands near St. Anne’s Golf Course, at Base Road and County Road 150E.
Festivities included a bit of something for all ages.
Bounce houses at the entrance were popular with children. Kids ran around with balloons and painted faces.
Anna Morris, safely strapped into her seat at the front of an airplane, was eager for her first plane ride.
“I am ready to go,” the 5-year-old yelled from her seat.
Anna’s parents, Nick Gill and Megan Reed, drove from Anderson for Airport Awareness Day.
“Anna loves speed. Boats, cars, bikes or anything that goes fast, Anna loves speed. We heard this was going on today, so we drove down to give Anna the chance to fly,” her father said.
Aerobatic biplane and hot-air
balloon rides were offered for a fee. Money raised will be used to support the event or for educational projects.
Senior citizens lingered around vintage World War II aircraft, while some younger attendees examined new corporate jets.
The vintage aircraft were appropriate for display because the North Vernon airport was built in 1943 as an adjunct to the training airfield in Seymour during World War II. Modern aircraft now use the airport to service local companies and military operations.
at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center.
Airport officials have said that airport operations have a direct impact of $52 million on the local community.
Indianapolis residents Greg and Diane Mahler flew their World War II-era plane to the airport for the day.
The shiny aircraft attracted the attention of many people, including Sgt. Lucas Brackney, who left the Indiana National Guard booth where a modern drone aircraft was on display. Brackney peppered Greg Mahler with a series of questions about his vintage aircraft.
Mahler said that he had found the plane on display at the Birmingham (Ala.) Air Museum and had purchased it on the condition he would allow kids to see the plane. In keeping with his agreement, nearly every weekend the Mahlers fly the plane to airshows across the nation.
“It takes a lot of elbow grease to keep it in this condition, and it has to pass the same safety requirements as new aircraft; but we do it for the kids, the kids of all ages,” he said.
The event featured more than airplanes. Several vintage cars were on display. The Jennings County Sheriff’s and the North Vernon Police departments displayed equipment and tactics. A crowd of nearly 100 people clapped to show their appreciation of canine officer Heros as he performed tricks of his training with North Vernon Police Officer Andy Richmond.
Some agencies and organizations, including amateur radio operators, the National Weather Service and the Red Cross, had display booths.