Living in the middle of the National Aviation Heritage Area is not like living in a national park with bears, bison, and geysers.
Instead, it means that we grew up with our faces looking skyward to see what kind of airplane is overhead.
The National Aviation Heritage Area encompasses the counties surrounding Dayton. It includes Clark, Champaign and Miami counties in addition to Greene, Montgomery, Auglaize, Shelby, and Warren counties. The National Aviation Heritage Alliance partners with the National Park Service with a goal of making this area a “recognized global center of aviation heritage and premier destination for aviation heritage tourism, sustaining the legacy of the Wright brothers.”
Ever since the Wright brothers started taking off from Huffman Prairie just across the county line from us, there have been airplanes over Clark County. Our great-grandparents who lived around here were the first to see airplanes in the sky on a regular basis. They really were, and I find that fascinating.
The airplanes were small at first and the props made a pleasant humming sound. The planes would fly low over the fields and the pilots would wave back at the farmers. Kids would run out of houses to wave. These were aviation’s good old days, the days of barnstorming.
However, every year the airplanes became louder and faster. Aviation grew into a huge global industry.
Being located at the eastern end of the Wright Patterson runway was interesting for our grandparents. Clark County residents have been some of the first people to see aviation’s latest accomplishments fly overhead.
I think there are more military and civilian pilots who grew up in this area than anywhere else. My husband, who grew up near Sidney, remembers a jet pilot flying so low over his house that he could see the pilot’s helmet. He knew right then and there that he wanted to be in that cockpit too. He grew up to live that dream as a naval aviator.
Next weekend Clark County has the opportunity to go back in time a bit; back to that slower simpler time when the airplanes hummed in the sky like giant bees. On July 16 and 17 our skies will be filled again with open cockpit biplanes and we just might get a chance to fly in one. For that weekend, biplanes will gather at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, just south of Springfield off U.S. 68.
The Barnstorming Carnival was started by Dewey Davenport only three years ago. Davenport has used his love of antique aviation to put this entertaining event together. It has biplane displays and rides, radio control airplane and helicopter demonstrations that will amaze, Model T’s and Model A Fords, and kids activities.
Davenport has made and flown model airplanes since he was 7 years old.
“I wanted to fly but my parents wouldn’t let me fly until I was 18,” he said.
When he finally got to take lessons, he learned how to fly in antique airplanes in Waynesville and he has enjoyed the biplanes ever since then.
Davenport is the owner and operator of Goodfolk & O’Tymes Biplane rides and frequently flies into the New Carlisle airport. He is the organizer of the event at the Springfield airport and says he could not do it without the help and support of his aviation-loving friends, some from New Carlisle.
One of my favorite things about this event is how great the antique planes and the old cars look parked near each other. I bet I’m not the only one with a photo of grandma when she was young in the 1920s sitting on a car and watching airplanes take off and land at Huffman Prairie.
Davenport has included young folks in his planning of this event. Bouncing houses, magicians, and clowns with balloons will keep the littlest ones happy. For the older ones there will be paper rocket building. On Saturday at 2 p.m. older kids from seven to 13 years old can take part in a power rocket building workshop. This is free but requires registration. Check out the website http://www.barnstormingcarnival.com/
After the Barnstorming Carnival, we only have a little over two months to wait until the Heritage of Flight Festival takes over New Carlisle and Western Clark County. Mark your calendar for Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. Don’t let it sneak up on you.
Meanwhile, if you see a biplane flying overhead, be sure to give Dewey a wave.
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