Wet weather doesn’t deter airplane enthusiasts

LOCK HAVEN — Just like the postman delivering the mail, the Sentimental Journey to Cub Haven Fly-In goes on, no matter the weather.

Unfortunately, this year mother nature is pouring her wrath on the event, now in its 34th year, and testing the fortitude of pilots, airplane enthusiasts and volunteers who put their heart and soul into the Fly-In every year.

Even the downpours of heavy rain can’t keep some folks away, as they gather with old friends and meet new ones at the Piper Airport to boast about their personal aircrafts and take a look at the pride and joy of other pilots who make the journey each year.

Sure, it’s wet and muddy. People are wearing raincoats and boots, carrying umbrellas. And most haven’t even thought about taking to the gray skies on this first day of the 2019 Fly-In for a flight above the region.

But, they’re not complaining.

Rather, they’re hoping for better days ahead as this week-long event continues and are making the best of the situation — still happy to be in Lock Haven, the home of the Piper Cub –and enjoying the company of others who are happy to be here, too.

There is another element of history at this year’s Fly-In. It’s a celebration of the 75th anniversary of Smokey the Bear, who was rescued from a forest fire in a Piper Cub 75 years ago.

Although today and Thursday have more rain in the forecast, sun is forecast for Friday and Saturday.

The Wayne Township Landfill delivered a load of mulch Tuesday morning and filled many of the puddles and rain-soaked areas on the grounds, making walking easier for visitors.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of activities planned at the Fly-In and many are under cover, like an awesome live steam model train set up by John Gummo on the third floor of the Piper Aviation Museum. Gummo has donated much of the model train exhibit housed on the second floor of the museum and has brought this steam train in as a special treat for for plane and train enthusiasts.

Assisted by Bob McDonough, demonstrations of the steam model trains will be held Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Friday, from 3 to 5 p.m. They will be running electric model trains on display as well as other railroad related items and memorabilia.

Gummo recently attended the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in Utah and will provide a presentation to the Rotary/Kiwanis luncheon on Thursday at the museum.

Those who visit the train displays on the third floor will not be charged admission, and a discount will be offered to those who visit the third floor display should they want to visit the Piper Aviation Museum or the Sentimental Journey Fly-In during times that admission is charged for those venues.

Also in the museum, air and train pilot aficionado Edward Watson has set up a beautiful Lionel and Marx Exhibit — “just what you expected to see on Christmas morning” — 40 years ago.

And Terry Banfill will be offering a free “Thomas the Train” ride for children outside the museum during the times the third floor exhibits are in session.

For those who are interested in reading about Piper and its history in Lock Haven, there’s a new book available at the Fly-In that you’ll want to take home with you.

It’s called “Flying with The Herd O” Turtles,” One Girl’s View From a Few Thousand Feet, More or Less. The author is Leah “Mae Coady” Jones, also known as “Gizmo,” who was one of the original Piper crew members in Lock Haven and helped build the first Piper Cubs.

Jones, of Charlottesville, Va., turned 92 years old on June 1, and died several days ago on June 14. She’d made many trips to Lock Haven’s Fly-In during her lifetime and will remembered by many who shared her love of aircraft and flying.

The books are available for a donation at the “blue building” on the Castanea Fire Co. grounds adjacent to the air field. Proceeds will go toward the Leah Jones Aviation Scholarship for high school students going on for an aviation-related education.

There are also vendors, some in the “blue building” selling their wares and providing food and drink for visitors. A covered pavilion nearby provides tables to eat and, of course, share stories about airplanes.

As author George Marek said, “There’s nothing like a little rain to bring people together.”