by Erin Thursby
“When once you have tasted flight you will always walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward: for there you have been and there you will always be.” -Henry Van Dyke
Airplanes, hot rods and family fun are all part of the Wings N Wheels event at Craig Airport on Saturday, September 25 from 10 am to 4 pm.
Plan to arrive early, the turnout is expected to be in the thousands, estimated at from about 8,000 to12,000. Although public admission is free, the event will be a fundraiser for EAA Chapter 193, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving general aviation.
Vehicles of many categories will be shown at the event. You’ll see hod rods, antique cars, motorcycles, warbird aircrafts and home-built airplanes. Famed airplanes such as a restored 1933 Lockheed Electra, P-51 Mustang and a Stearman bi-plan will be on site. Most of the vehicles on display will be registered to compete for trophies in various categories.
Elvis Golden is co-chair of the Wings N Wheels organization committee. He has a passion for flight and he loves passing down that passion through programs such as the Young Eagles. “Wings N Wheels serves a dual purpose. It helps raise money for the EAA (which has programs like the Young Eagles) and kids can be introduced to airplanes [during the event],” says Golden. Through Young Eagles, the EAA provides youngsters ages 8 to 17 with meaningful flight experiences.
During Wings N Wheels, says Golden “The flight schools will be giving rides in various aircraft. Cessna 172’s Piper Warriors / Archers and Cirrus SR22’s. I understand anyone can get a 30 minute ride for $30.” Entrance to the event itself, however, is free.
Having been up in a small craft over Craig, I can say that the view is worthwhile. Coming in on a commercial craft, you don’t get to see as much of the aerial view of Jacksonville. It’s a unique and different way to get to know your city.
Kids will gravitate towards the Kids Fun Zone, provided by the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue. Live entertainment, prizes, food and vendors will be enjoyed by all ages.
For Tom Richardson, also co-chair of the Wings N Wheels Organization Committee, the lifelong love of flying is something that keeps him and everybody young in spirit. “Doing this,” Richardson says, “I don’t think you ever grow up.”
Entertainment will include the UNF Jazz Ensemble III, Stage Blue and Borderline. The UNF Jazz Ensemble III has played at festivals around Georgia and Florida, including the the Lakeside Jazz Festival in Daytona Beach, the Jazz Festival at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach and of course UNF’s Great American Jazz Series and the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival. Stage Blue, a local two-piece acoustic band will be playing mostly rock for the crowd. Borderline will play classic-rock ‘n roll, with a little bit of blues and pinch of country.
You’ll have a good time, but you’ll also be helping the local EAA, and their local programs inspiring youngsters’ interest in aviation and fostering a community of experimental aircraft enthusiasts. Aircraft construction methods, learning to fly and aircraft restoration are all introduced to local kids and shared between members. The EAA wants to get the next generation of fliers curious about planes. They also help mentor kids who want to learn how to fly through free ground schools.
Whether you decide to take a flight or just want to see the wings and wheels, Wings N Wheels is a wonderful event to entertain yourself and the kids on Saturday, September 25th.
Wings N Wheels
by Erin Thursby