The Grass Strip chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association was formed in Midway on March 1 at Holton’s Seafood Restaurant.
The first order of business for the eight founding members was to name the new chapter and elect officers. Steve Berg, owner of Berg Park Aerodrome (9GA2), served as moderator.
Andrew Powell was elected as the new chapter’s first president. Mark Crabb was elected as vice president, Jodi Scott was elected as secretary and Berg was elected as treasurer.
“I wanted to start an EAA chapter in Midway,” Berg said. “Several of us in this area are members at other chapters located more than an hour from here. Others have told me they have an interest in joining (EAA), but there’s no way for them to engage locally. I thought if we could just get five people to come to the first meeting, we could start a new chapter. Several others said they plan to join at the next meeting (at Berg Park Aerodrome) on the first Saturday of the month at 11 a.m.”
According to www.eaa.org, the organization was founded in 1953 by a group of aviators in Milwaukee, Wis., who were interested in building their own airplanes. Since that time, the EAA has expanded its mission to flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft, including “antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters and contemporary manufactured aircraft.”
Information on approved and prohibited activities included with an EAA chapter application OKs chapter-sponsored fly-ins like an airport open house and static displays but not air shows or aerobatic demonstrations. An EAA chapter can host educational activities, like aircraft-builders workshops, but not flight instruction.
The application information advises chapters to ask three questions before deciding to sponsor an activity: Does it support the mission, values and culture of EAA? What is the motivation behind this activity? Does it pass the “common-sense” test?
Berg said he’s always loved flying. The son of a career soldier, he grew up near military bases in the Southwest, mostly Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. He said that in 1958, he dropped out of college and joined the Air Force Cadet program.
“The Air Force and the Navy both had a cadet program, but the Navy required you to have two years of college,” Berg said. “The Air Force only required one. I stayed in the Air Force four years, serving with the Strategic Air Command. I flew the B-47 (Stratojet).”
He explained the feeling he got when he stood on the ground looking up through the bomb-bay doors of the B-47 loaded with a 20-megaton (nuclear) bomb.
“You think, ‘This is for real!’” he said. “I got out right after the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
Berg said that when he left the Air Force, he wasn’t interested in joining the Air National Guard or the Reserve. Over the next several years, he tried several jobs, including truck driver, dispatcher and management consultant. He also completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon.
He met his wife while visiting Augusta in 1970, he said. Although his marriage didn’t last, the love he developed for Georgia led him to eventually settle here. Berg owns the 40-acre grassy airstrip that hosts an annual fly-in in October. He also owns two small airplanes, which he stores in his hangar when he’s not flying one of them.
For more information about the EAA’s Grass Strip chapter, contact email@example.com.