Pilots give students thrill

Published 8:08 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2010

HERB WILLFORD, third from left, the oldest local member at Saturday's Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles Day program get together with officials and pilots taking part in the program. From left, are pilots Ed Copes and Scott Sutor, Willford, Senior Master Sgt. Frank Geslak, pilots A.J. Buckly, Jeff Bauer, Art Bruce, Kelley Phillips and Danny Deason, and Col. Gary Breedlove, who directed Saturdays' event at the Decatur County Industrial Park Airport.|Joe Crine

Nine Tallahassee, Fla., Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 445 pilots gave southwest Georgia and north Florida high school students a chance to experience the thrill of flight Saturday morning at the Decatur County Industrial Park Airport.

The occasion was the annual Young Eagles Day program.

Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC students and students from Miller County, Thomasville, and Mitchell County high schools, Tallahassee, Fla., Leon High School and Grace Christian Academy took part in the flights.

Email newsletter signup

Recently retired Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC program director Col. Gary Breedlove coordinated Saturday’s Young Eagles Day program during which approximately 90 students got the opportunity to fly.

A special guest for the day was Herb Willford, a U.S. Air Force veteran from Toledo, Ohio, who now lives at Willow Ridge.

Willford, who is 82, was the 89th member of EAA that now has hundreds of thousands of member. He worked in the aircraft industry and spent some time rebuilding airplanes.

“One of my assignments was in Alaska,” he recalled. “The cold weather really didn’t bother me. I had the choice of taking an assignment in Alaska or Hawaii and I chose Alaska. I have been around aircraft all my life and enjoyed every minute of it.”

Danny Deason, formerly of Cairo and now living in Monticello, Fla., a long time member of Tallahassee’s EAA Chapter 445, talked about getting involved with Breedlove and the EAA Young Eagles flights here in Bainbridge.

“I was president when we first started having flights here,” he said. “It’s been a great experience for the ROTC cadets and our pilots.”

Another entertaining part of Saturday’s event was a glider pilot simulator brought by pilot Lane Bush. While the gliders do not carry any passengers, demonstration flights were held with them attached by rope to the back of a passenger aircraft.

STUDENTS GET TOGETHER with Danny Deason by his airplane after he took them on their Young Eagles Day flight. From the left, are Deason, Bainbridge High School students Dexter Lagace and Jame Harrell and Tallahassee, Fla., Leon High School student Austin Pondolfi.|Joe Crine

Local ROTC students Dexter Lagace and Jame Harrell, and Austin Pondolfi of Leon High School talked about their experience after flying with Deason.

“Everything on the ground looks so small from the air,” Lagace said.

“We really got a sense of soaring once we got up in the air,” added Harrell and Pondolfi.

Bainbridge High School seniors Brittney Pollock and Morgan Ulm, who flew with Bainbridge First Baptist Church music director Art Bruce, said they particularly enjoyed the views of the Bainbridge High School campus and Centennial Field from the air.

THIS AERIAL VIEW of Centennial Field was taken from the plane of First Baptist Church music director At Bruce during a Saturday's Young Eagles Day program.|Joe Crine

Pilots taking part in Saturday’s Young Eagle flights, along with Deason and Bruce, were Ed Copes of Quincy, Fla., Scott Sutor of Monticello,, Fla., A.J. Buckly of Tallahassee, Fla., Jeff Bauer of Quincy, Fla., and Kelley Phillips of Tallahassee, Fla.