Aviation display donated to Airport

Published 6:21 pm Friday, January 29, 2016

As a young boy, Lenny DeLamar lived in Bainbridge and spent many hours at the Bainbridge Airport, where his father, Leonard Gibson DeLamar Sr., was a flight instructor for Southern Airways from 1951 to 1961, when the base closed.

Growing up around the airport and watching his father fly U.S. Air jets was “as cool as it could be,” according to DeLamar, who said he rightly developed a life-long passion for flight in addition to acquiring great respect for his dad.

That passion led him to come visit the airport back in October, where he saw a few photos and two class books from the flight training school. He told Airport manager Jim Cerone he had two more class books he would bring him. Then, he felt compelled to do more.

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This past Tuesday, he presented the Decatur County Commission and Airport Manager Cerone with a display case he designed. It shows personal artifacts displayed on a background of sectional charts, navigational plotter and contains a photo of his father, along with some of the patches he wore on his uniform.

Although the photo is of his father, who began as an airbase flight instructor at age 30, DeLamar says it is representative of all the young men who trained there. “When people look at that photo I want them to see a whole generation of pilots who took their first steps into air in Bainbridge.” The young men were generally right out of college.

The WWII prop plans had progressed to more modern props, then jets. It was primary training for those who had never flown before.

His father grew up in Hawkinsville, Ga. and always had a passion for flight. “Dad flew as a teenager and when WWII broke out, he signed up and flew over North Africa and Southern Europe. He decided aviation would be his career when he got out. “

Following the war his dad competed with many other men trying to make a living in flight. He worked at various flight schools and even flew crop dusters, so when Southern Airways took over the Airbase in 1951, and the family moved to Bainbridge, it was his father’s first steady job.

Those were the years young DeLamar Jr. grew up in Bainbridge in the family home on Collier Street.

He was a paper carrier for the Albany Herald and joined a Boy Scout Troop, along with such distinguished fellow members as Alec Poitevint, Henry Metcalf, Joy Kress, and Roy Simpson, to name a few. He went on to achieve the rank of Eagle. He recalls that his father also always had an interest in electronics and that his family had the first television set in the 700 block of Collier Street.

DeLamar now lives in Albany where the family moved following the base closure.

His father started his own television repair shop in Albany and passed away at age 78 in 1999.

Lenny DeLamar, who has always had a passion for aviation said he is thankful that the display and books containing the history of the 3306 USAF Training Group are now at the airbase where they belong.

At age 67, Lenny DeLamar is finally about to achieve his life-long dream of obtaining his own pilot license. He is currently in training in Albany, and said when he is finished there the first thing he will do is come to Bainbridge and train for his “tail wheel” license, which requires extra training and specifications.

He is looking forward to bringing his children, grandchildren and great –grandchiildren to see the airbase and the photo of their grandfather and great-grandfather when he was a young and vital man who made such a difference in so many young lives.