Fly-In seeks volunteers for the big week


LOCK HAVEN — Years ago, Piper Aircraft Corp. was a hub of aviation activity and business in Lock Haven, manufacturing aircraft used across the country and around the world and employing people throughout the area.Though Piper Aircraft is no longer in Lock Haven, its history remains entwined with our town. The annual Sentimental Journey to Cub Haven Fly-In, in addition to the Piper Aviation Museum, celebrates this history, bringing together people from across the world, including former Piper employees, pilots, and community members.

This year marks the 33rd annual Fly-In, which will take place Tuesday through Saturday, June 19 to 23, and pay tribute to Lock Haven’s aviation heritage. This year’s theme celebrates the 100th anniversary of air mail to Lock Haven.

Since its establishment in 1985, the Fly-In has heavily depended on volunteers to keep the exhibition alive. Though many dedicated volunteers have stuck around over the years, involvement has dwindled recently and organizers are seeking individuals who would like to volunteer their time.

“As the older population has little desire to get involved and it becomes much harder for them to help out, or they become deceased, our amount of volunteers has decreased,” said Carmen Banfill, Sentimental Journey treasurer and secretary.

The Fly-In welcomes volunteers of all ages, local or from out of town, to help with the week’s events.

Each year, the Cub Haven Fly-In receives the help of more than 200 volunteers, including former Piper employees, community members, local organizations like Rotary and Lions clubs, church groups, and others from across the country.

Some stay all week, whether camping or staying in a hotel, while others come for a single day.

And they come from all over, many from across Pennsylvania, from Pittsburgh to Hollidaysburg.

Others cross state lines to help out, like a man from Michigan who comes each year to configure headsets and the sound system, even donating equipment to use if he must leave early, and a man from Miami who sets up and runs the bar each year.

Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the event, including organizing meals, chauffeuring guests to and from their hotels, guiding tours, and running discussion forums and other events including the Flour Bomb Drop and Golf Ball Drop.

Without these friendly and dedicated volunteers who deeply care about the history honored by the event, the Fly-In would not be able to continue running.

Of the more than 300 pilots who attend and participate in the Fly-In, many also volunteer their time each year.

“We have dedicated pilots that, if the weather isn’t good and they can’t fly in, will drive in,” said Betsy Buchan, Sentimental Journey volunteer chairperson. “That’s why we like to call it ‘the fly-in and drive-in.'”

Buchan keeps track of the hundreds of volunteers who offer their time for Fly-In week, organizing the many tasks they will accomplish.

A main reason people continue to volunteer is they want to honor the rich history of aviation.

Another draw is the camaraderie that pilots, and even volunteers and guests, feel during the Fly-In, from camping underneath the wings of their planes, to talking to friends old and new at the corn boil that is held each night through Friday.

“They enjoy coming here because of the friendship and laid-back atmosphere. You don’t socialize at other big fly-ins like you do here,” Buchan said.

If you have an interest in aviation history, or just want to help out the community while forming lasting connections, volunteering at the Fly-In is truly one of the best ways to do so. As a volunteer, you can help keep alive the legacy of Piper Aircraft, one of the biggest pieces of Lock Haven’s history.

The Fly-In needs volunteers now to help with various aspects of the event, including admissions, cleaning the grounds, preparing for the corn boil, setting up tomorrow and Friday prior to the event, and taking things down after the Fly-In is over.

If you are interested, call Betsy Buchan at 570-660-7520 or Carmen Banfill at 570-295-6192.