by Cara Pitchford
Satisfy your need for excitement Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at Aviation Heritage Park’s annual Open Cockpit event and SOKY Multirotors’ Drone Dash!
AHP welcomes the public, whether you are an aviation enthusiast or a local history fan, to have an up-close look at all the park warbirds. The cockpits will be open on all five of the static displays for you to check out the perfectly restored interior workings of the United States’ mightiest military machines! Knowledgeable docents will be on hand discussing the aircraft and telling the stories of the pilots, all local and affiliated with WKU.
Viewing platforms will be available for all the park aircraft. From this vantage, park visitors can look inside Phantom 550, the Aardvark, the Panther and the Shooting Star, all owned (and regulated) by governmental agencies. Interested visitors may get into the Talon, a craft flown by every astronaut who walked on the moon. This T-38 is owned by Warren County/Aviation Heritage Park.
After six months of restoration in the park’s Gerald Roark Restoration Facility, Phantom 550 will once again be on public display. A plane with local historical significance, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is the actual plane that Brig. Gen. Dan Cherry of Bowling Green flew in the Vietnam War when he shot down a MiG-21.
The largest aircraft in the park is the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark. This airplane commemorates the heroic actions of Bowling Green native Col. Arnie Franklin who lead the Air Force portion of the Libyan Raid on Muammar Gaddafi (El Dorado Canyon). This particular airplane flew right wing on the mission and also dropped the last bomb during Desert Storm.
The Grumman F9F Panther tells the story of LCDR John Magda, a man with a bold history. Magda was a Naval aviator in WWII, participating in the Battle of Midway – an Ace at age 23. After the war, he served as commander of the Blue Angels until the outbreak of the Korean War where he lost his life on a mission. Some of Magda’s medals include the Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with two Gold Stars, and the Purple Heart.
Glasgow native General Russ Dougherty’s story is told with a Lockheed T-38 Shooting Star. General Dougherty served during WWII with B-17 and B-29 aircraft. Three decades of intense involvement in the Cold War found General Dougherty in leadership positions, both nationally and internationally. He was promoted to his four-star grade and assigned as Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, and then took command of the Strategic Air Command.
Get the camera ready when you climb up to see the Northrup T-38 Talon. You are invited to not only look, but also climb into the seat. The NASA trainer, honoring local astronaut Terry Wilcutt, is the most recent acquisition in the park. A notable historic aircraft, this Talon #901 was flown by all the astronauts who have ever walked on the moon. Additionally, the pilots who have been in its seat include all those on the six Mercury missions through 1963, the 10 Gemini missions, and the Apollo program. The astronauts who have flown AHP’s Talon include Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., Walter M. Schirra, Jr. and Alan B. Shepard, Jr. And, during our Open Cockpit Day, you can sit there, too!
The park has two new assets that are currently lodged at the Bowling Green/Warren County Regional Airport, awaiting restoration.
Leading the wait list is a Bell UH-1 Huey helicopter. For the first time, the Huey will be brought to Aviation Heritage Park this fall to begin restoration. The helicopter will honor all regional Vietnam veterans and tell the story of Col. Raymond Nutter. Colonel Nutter was one of the most highly decorated soldiers of the Vietnam War. During his distinguished Army career, Colonel Nutter served as a Senior Aviator, Helicopter Pilot, Gunship Pilot, Master Parachutist, Battalion Commander and senior advisor to the Kentucky National Guard. AHP board members recently returned from the boneyard (a place where retired aircraft are kept) with the Huey, and it is currently available for viewing in its “as found” condition at the airport.
Also waiting patiently in a hangar at the airport is a 1941 Piper J3 Cub that will tell the story of Glasgow native Willa Brown who trained several of the famed Tuskegee Airmen and was the first African American woman commercial pilot in the United States and Civil Air Patrol officer.
But wait, there’s more! Just across the parking lot from the aircraft display, SOKY Multirotors, a local group of drone hobbyists, is hosting the third annual Drone Dash at Aviation Heritage Park in conjunction with the Open Cockpit event.
This is the second year that SOKY Multirotors is bringing their high-energy sport of FPV DRONE RACING to AHP. They have constructed a complete First Person View (FPV) racecourse that is sure to challenge all who fly there. The course layout will be based on the MultiGP UTT1. See the AHP website for a diagram.
Registration for anyone who wishes to fly a drone at the park during the Drone Dash is $10 the day of the event, beginning at 9 a.m. There is an additional $5 fee for FPV racing. Flights will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Feel like giving FPV racing a try? An FPV computer simulator will be available.
There will also be a “Green Area” open for fun flight and aerial demonstrations. Anyone flying MUST register.
Spectators are welcome to observe. No registration is required. Spectators must remain clear of the FPV Race course and out of the Green Zone.
For more information about Aviation Heritage Park, the aircraft, the pilots, or this event, visit . Aviation Heritage Park is located at the corner of Three Springs Road and Smallhouse Road at Basil Griffin Park. Access to the park is free and open during daylight hours year round.