Hollywood, MD – The unseasonably warm weather Saturday, Oct. 7, brought roughly 600 people to the first St. Mary’s Regional Airport open house. Planning for the open house began in June when Steve Bildman, President of Air Tec, Inc. was looking for a way to get “the community more involved with what’s happening at the airport.”
As Bildman noted, “the airport is growing and it can be a huge economic engine outside of Pax River.”
Gillian Bishop who works part-time at the airport while attending the College of Southern Maryland, was charged with organizing the event and she wanted to focus on science, technology, engineering, math and aviation. Gillian had been to the annual Wings and Wheels at Salisbury airport and wanted to model the open house on that theme. She explained the “purpose of the open house was to show off our expanding airport as well as collaborate with some local STEM outlets.” The Great Mills High School STEM came at the end of the day and had interactive robots that kids and adults alike could try out.
Piedmont Flight School provided a drone demonstration that was a hit with the kids who got to fly them. Dave Stanton and Matt Dowty showed off three different sizes of drones. Drones are measured by the size of their fuselage, not rotor tip to rotor tip. The drone being flown was a 400mm Mavic Pro. The two other drones on display were a 600mm and a 1200mm.
A kit airplane was on display so those attending the open house could see how they’re built and question the owner who has the aircraft about half way completed. Other airplanes on display included Nalls Aviation Sea Harrier, the L-39 and Cub, a DC-3TP, a Falcon 10, a Bell 206B and several General Aviation aircraft as well as vintage aircraft like the 1947 Stinson 108, a 1946 P12 Super Cruiser, and a 1980 reproduction of a Great Lakes airplane.
The wheels part of the open house included Fritz Wray who brought his orange Outlaw 1940 coupe, a 1976 and a 1961 Corvette, a Ford Model T and about seven other vintage cars.
Reggie the magician was amazing and really tapped into the whole crowd. Linda’s on the Go food truck provided food.
There was also a raffle for flights in a Robinson R44 and a 1-hour flight in a Cessna 182. The winners were Bill Beaton who won the R44 flight and Shaun Denihan who won the 182 flight.
The finale of the open house was a race between Art Nall’s L-39 and Steve Bildman driving a Ferrari down the runway.
Riding in the backseat of the L-39 was 13-year old Reese, a student at Longfellow Middle School and was attending the open house with her mother Tanya and older sister. Tanya said Reese is “absolutely fearless.” This was the first pure jet ride for Reese other than commercial airliners and a helicopter flight in Florida. Tanya wasn’t worried though because Reese wants to be a surgeon when she grows up.
A poster board on display had the quote “A mile of highway takes you one mile; a mile of runway can take you anywhere in the world” and that certainly fits with what Bishop and Bildman hoped to accomplish Saturday. As both noted, “the kids who come today may be back 10 or 15-years from now to learn to fly or work in aviation as either mechanics or UAS pilots.”