Airfest gives visitors to Scott Co. chances to fly

gkocher1@herald-leader.comSeptember 14, 2013 

GEORGETOWN — For someone who had just jumped out of an airplane from 10,000 feet, Jacquline King didn't look worse for wear. In fact, she was exhilarated.

"It was so cool," King said of her tandem jump with an experienced skydiver at Saturday's Airfest at the Georgetown-Scott County Regional Airport.

"At first, I was kind of scared, but everything was going so fast," King said, beaming with an ear-to-ear smile. "And then I was like, free-falling, and it was so awesome. ...I flew through a cloud. It was like a breath of fresh air."

Not everyone at the event chose, as Jimi Hendrix might say, a "'scuse-me-while-I-kiss-the-sky" experience, but they had opportunities to do so.

For $400, visitors could ride in a restored World War II B-25D bomber that made eight runs over Nazi-held Italy in 1944. The bomber, manufactured 70 years ago, flew to Scott County from the Yankee Air Museum in southeastern Michigan.

What's flying a 70-year-old airplane like?

"Well, when you're 76 years old, it feels pretty damn good," said co-pilot Joe Toth. "It's a piece of history. It's a well-behaved airplane. It has its tricks up its sleeve, but you learn what they are, as you would with any piece of equipment. It's a pleasure and an honor to fly the airplane."

Visitors who didn't want to fork over four C-notes could ride in a Vietnam War-era Huey helicopter for $60.

Jack Reid of Georgetown treated his 7-year-old daughter, Taylor, to a ride in the helicopter. "I liked when we went down and sideways," she said.

"We went left and right and up and down," Jack Reid said. "It was a real neat experience."

This was the second Airfest, which was last held in 2011. Airport Manager James Toole hopes to hold the event every other year.

"We just want the general public to know that the airport's here," Toole said.

The airport, located off U.S. 460 five miles east of Georgetown, is important in the effort to keep and attract jobs, Toole said, because "corporate America does not come to town by bus. They fly in and drive to locations."

In 2010, the airport beat 600 airports in eight Southern states to be named the Southern Regional Airport of the Year by the Federal Aviation Administration. Federal dollars were used to repave the airport's 5,500-foot-long runway and widen the ends of a parallel taxiway.

Private, general-aviation aircraft were also displayed at Saturday's event, including a rear-engine Cozy Mark IV rebuilt by Matthew Bunch.

"It flies 200 miles per hour," Bunch said. "I can carry 300 pounds of fuel and 700 pounds of people and baggage. I can get from here to Miami non-stop in five hours."

Bunch said he has airplane parts shipped directly to his family's bankruptcy law office in Lexington, where his wife, Caryn, is also an attorney.

"Our deal is, whatever I spend on the airplane, she gets to spend an equal amount on jewelry," Bunch said. "So she'll say, 'What new part are you getting in today, Matt?' And I'll say, 'It's the same money, so I'm not spending any new money. So no more new money for you, honey.' And she'll go, 'I don't believe you.'"

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @heraldleader

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