Sunday, June 8, 2003

Blue Ash abuzz with Airport Days

Couple weds on airplane

By Andrea Uhde
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Capt. Dan McClung, a Delta Air Lines pilot as well as a Red Eagle stunt pilot, emerges from Delta's DC-3 Ship 41 with his bride, Maria Mitchell McClung. The two got married inside the aircraft (on the ground) on Saturday during the Blue Ash Airport Days.
([name of photographer] photo)
| ZOOM |
BLUE ASH - Desmond Holland peered into the old B-25 bomber's cockpit with amazement.

Having spent the past month learning about the plane from his grandfather, a Vietnam War veteran, the 8-year-old was grinning with excitement.

"I want to ride one, but I've got to be older," said Desmond of Forest Park, who is barely as tall as the plane's wheels.

Holland and his grandfather, Norman Robinson, 63, of Woodlawn, were two of some 15,000 people attending Saturday's opening day of the two-day Blue Ash Airport Days.

The seventh annual event features aerobatic shows, a restored 1940s B-17 "My Gal Sal" airplane - among many others - and plenty of food and children's games.

Rides on a 1942 Stearman are available for $90 per person; a Cessna 172 for $20 per person; a Katana for $30 per person; and the B-25 for $350 per person.

For automobile buffs, more than 300 antique cars will be judged today at a car show.

For Robinson, the airplane displays were a way to show his grandson and 16-year-old nephew, Aaron Amos of Los Angeles, that the airplanes he worked with as a mechanic in Vietnam are much larger than the model airplanes they have been assembling.

"It's wonderful to let them feel, touch and see this," Robinson said. "They can relate to it a little better when they see the real ones."

Children toddled around the vintage planes in wonder, while veterans fell into a blanket of memories.

Jack Linker, 70, of Wyoming, a Korean War veteran, chatted with a World War II veteran over pancakes and bananas. Linker came solo, since his wife isn't interested in planes.

"To her, they're just planes," he said, pointing at a white plane behind him.

"I had one of my biggest thrills in one of those DC-3s," he said, wobbling his hand to demonstrate how bumpy the ride was.

With this year marking the 100th anniversary of the first Wright brothers flight and corresponding celebrations in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, vintage airplanes are a hot topic.

"(Flying) was a lot less sophisticated then than it is now," said Barney Landry, 75, of Hamilton, a Korean War veteran.

In the 1950s, Landry flew two of the planes on display.

"I don't know how much the kids are taught to appreciate (the planes), but they certainly should," he said.

That's the same theory held by the Warbirds, a red-clad group that refurbishes WWII planes. Its local chapter, Squadron 18, brought the B-25 bomber.

"We try to bring in airplanes like this so people can see and experience them," said Greg Houser, 45, of Maineville, president of the squadron.

One couple did more than just experience a plane - they got married in one.

Dan McClung of Atlanta, one of the pilots in the air show, married Maria Mitchellof Marietta, Ga., a freelance photographer, in the DC-3, a Delta Air Lines plane.

"One of their dreams was to be married on this," said Candi Roetman of Sharpsburg, Ga., a friend of the couple. "He is a Delta pilot. And because of that, it held a special significance for them."

At noon, with the sun starting to emerge, Red Eagle Team airplanes zipped through the sky, trailing smoke. They dipped and swirled, twisted and turned.

"It's a good air show. We come every year," said Sharon Stafford, 34, of Colerain Township.

Her daughter, Emily, 11, was speechless as she stared big-eyed at the sky.

If you go

What: Blue Ash Airport Days.

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today. Aerobatics start at noon.

Where: Corner of Reed Hartman Highway and Glendale-Milford Road, Blue Ash.

Admission: $7, free to children 12 or younger.

Information: 618-5297 or Web site.


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