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Pilot uses grass airport, fly-in to promote aviation

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POSTED: October 31, 2012 6:30 p.m.
Photo by Emily C. Harrison/

Onlookers check out a vintage two-seater airplane Saturday in Midway during the Grass Strip Foundation’s open house, which featured aircraft, show cars and craft vendors.

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Overcast skies and strong, cool breezes kept crowds away from the Grass Strip Foundation’s third annual open house Saturday at Berg Park Aerodrome on Old Gress Road in Midway, which originally was estimated to draw 300 or more people.
The wings-and-wheels event was supposed to feature a “fly-in” of at least 10 9GA2 airplanes, but was thwarted by residual bad weather from Hurricane Sandy.
“Due to high winds and low ceilings, many pilots called in this morning with regrets that they would not be able to make it out,” said Steve Berg, owner of Berg Park Aerodrome and founder and president of the 503c nonprofit Grass Strip Foundation.
The aviation enthusiast was disappointed that the weather put a dent in attendance, although about 100 people did come and go throughout the day.
For the past three years, Berg has opened his private airstrip to other aviators, aviation enthusiasts and the public. The event is designed to educate the public about the joys of aviation, aircraft and their preservation. Berg feels that youth need to be educated about aviation so that they may explore careers in the field, which he said currently lacks an adequate number of professionals. He also would like to share information with aviation enthusiasts who want to learn how to fly.
Berg added that it’s a great time to get into aviation because vintage planes are fairly easy to get a hold of.
“Vintage planes are currently much more affordable than newly manufactured models, making the cost of purchasing a plane and learning how to fly about $100,000 less,” he said.
Although not many planes flew in, two of Berg’s vintage aircraft and two show cars were on display. Craft vendors also set up at the event.
Members of American Legion Post 321 attended and posted the colors during a flag ceremony.
“This is our first year out to the event; there was always something conflicting. As a member of our post, we like to support Steve when we can,” Post 321 Commander Dennis Fitzgerald said.
The group also had a fundraising booth selling chips and drinks and were spreading the word about its 5K Fun Run on Saturday at the Midway Museum that will raise funds for its Operation Holiday Basket program.
Jerry Fish, vice president of the local chapter of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association and leader of Boy Scout of Troop 691, brought his scouts and some Girl Scouts from Effingham County for a hands-on aviation lesson.
“BSA has an aviation merit badge, and the Girl Scouts have an aerospace merit badge, so we took the opportunity to bring them out here for a class and some hands-on demonstration of the controls in one of Steve’s planes,” Fish said.
The leader, armed with PowerPoint slides, talked about basic flight and controls, aerodynamics, lift and drag, and Newton’s Third Law. The class is a prerequisite for flight-safety simulator training that the group will complete next month at the Flight Safety Center at the Savannah Airport. It will allow the participants to earn their respective merit badges.
The Grass Strip Foundation still is somewhat new and growing. Berg said he is seeking other aviation enthusiasts in the community who would like to be part of the organization and hold other events on the grass airstrip. He also is seeking a volunteer webmaster to design and create a website for the foundation so it can share information and continue to grow. Tax-deductible donations always are appreciated and accepted, he added.
For more information on the foundation, email Berg at stevebee@coastalnow.net or call 884-8666.

 

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