Local children offered free airplane rides
By Jeremy Weldon
Up, up, and away.
Panola County children will have an opportunity to experience free airplane and hot air balloon rides, weather permitting, Saturday at the Panola County Airport.
The first annual Aviation Celebration is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the airport. The event has free parking and admission. Organizers will require waivers to be signed by parents or guardians and will limit the free rides to children ages 10-17.
Air Evac helicopter pilot Ken Taylor and fellow local pilots have recently formed the Panola County Aviation Enthusiasts club with the goal of bringing together professional and private pilots, and anyone who enjoys aviation history and events.
Taylor and others anticipate several planes at the airport Saturday. Most will be flown in by owners who attend air shows to display their planes and share them with the public.
The new club is hosting the event for the purpose of creating an interest in aviation among the area youth. Most Batesville children have never been near an airplane, and very few have experienced flight.
There will also be plenty of activities for adults at the show. The highlight will be a demonstration from a restored World War II airplane, the famed Corsair model, which is scheduled for perform at noon.
Also on tap for the day are workshops that explain what is required to become a pilot, the skills of instrument flying, and safety and maintenance discussions.
A flag ceremony at 9 a.m. will kickoff the event, and youth rides will begin at 10 a.m. Taylor said club members will make every effort to give each child a ride, but will be limited by the number of planes that make the show.
Experimental aircraft, helicopters, crop dusters, and drones are all expected to be part of the show. The hot air balloon is coming from Greenwood and is owned by Mike Hanson who has more than30 years of experience with balloons. He is the owner of Delta Breeze Hot Air Balloon Productions.
“Lady Delta” is a 105,000 cubic foot balloon that was made in the Czech Republic, and has been a main draw at festivals in the Southeast for many years.
Registration is free at www.eventbrite.com and is the best way to let organizers plan for the children’s rides.
Cutline: “Lady Delta” will be at the Panola County Airport tomorrow for the first annual Mississippi Aviation Celebration organized by local pilots and airplane aficionados.