The bright, excited eyes of children, as they tell about their very first ride into the skies, are matched only by their body language; a sort of strange flight in itself. And that’s the sort of thing that Wendell Hall, manager for Cheraw Municipal Airport, had hoped would happen when he helped plan the Fly-In last Saturday.
Hall, who has been a part of Cheraw’s airport for 17 years, said part of the motivation to offer free rides to the children, and great exhibitions of aircraft from days past to both the young and old, was an effort to create excitement and pride for the community’s link to the international world of flight.
Along with Ricky Griggs and Bill Eskridge, Hall offered $25 helicopter rides for adults and children. Free planes rides were given to nearly 100 children Saturday, ages 8 to 14.
“I saw my house!” said Ian Fisher, 14, of Cheraw, one of many youngsters who took advantage of the opportunity to tour the town from the clouds. Children bounced with the excitement of twirling and turning in the air, even as they returned to level ground. Laughter erupted as small groups would return from their flight telling tales of how they almost threw-up.
For those who chose to remain on the ground, the day was filled with reflections of polished chrome from antique cars, the shadows of exhibition flights and the aroma of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, offered by the Cheraw Braves Booster Club.
When asked which was her favorite plane, 12-year-old Marlana Mungo, of Cheraw, pointed to a white plane with wooden propellers. Caiden Mungo, 5, said she liked “the big, brown one.”
The big, brown one is actually a C-47 WWII Military Transport planes, known as “Bones.” Barry Avent of Bennettsville owns this huge plane and was more than happy to share it with the community.
This is the second year in a row the airport has sponsored the Fly-In event, said Hall. “We’ve been very pleased with the community’s response.”
Cheraw’s airport, also known as Lynch Bellinger Field, currently hosts a 5,000 foot lighted, primary runway. The terminal building offers a pilot’s lounge, conference room and mapping facilities for future flights. If you would like to know more about Cheraw Municipal Airport call 537-9626.