Saturday, June 18, 2016

Boulder marks Airport Day with vintage fliers, hands-on access: Kids in the cockpits, history on display

Finding Boulder Municipal Airport on Saturday was as easy as following the biplanes, helicopters and gliders circling above.

Airport Day, the facility's biannual open house, gave enthusiasts and pros the chance to show their military, commercial and vintage aircraft to the public. About two-dozen airplanes were on display, according to airport manager Tim Head.

Head explained that the event was different from typical air shows. The focus was on community engagement, more than stunt pilotry.

"One of the things that I think is neat is that it's hands-on," he said. "Pilots don't mind putting the kids in the cockpits."

The majority of those in attendance were families with children. Many were also former servicemen, said Head, who served in the Air Force.

Earlier in the day, said Head, a 90-year- old man approached the pilot of a biplane,saying that he had once flown the same type of craft. The man was later taken up for a ride.

Emergency workers were also present, offering tours of a fire truck and a Bell 407 medevac helicopter, among other vehicles. Boulder Municipal Airport often stages responses to disasters, including Saturday morning's fire on Flagstaff Mountain.

Matt Hart works as a nurse aboard a helicopter for North Colorado Med Evac. At least for those who came out to Saturday's event, flying is a passion. Hart worked in an intensive care unit before landing his current position, which was what he had always wanted to do.

Another attendee, Dewey Larson, began exhibiting an A-7D Corsair II after losing his job as a World Wrestling Entertainment promoter. With the support of his wife, Larson converted the late-20th Century fighter into a "Mobile Aviation Museum" and began touring the country.

Planes and helicopters trafficked in and out of the airport while the open house took place. At least one plane, a Piper J-4 sitting beside a U.S. Air Mail craft, was for sale.

The University of Colorado's Flying Club had set up a booth inside one of the hangars.

Torg Anderson was visiting from Alexandria, Va. He used to fly private aircraft in large cities and enjoyed teasing passengers by asking if they wanted to go "over or under" the bridges. He and his friend Carol Hunziker came out simply to enjoy the planes.

The aircraft on display dated from World War II to modern day. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people were expected to attend over the course of the day.

Boulder Municipal Airport is supported by revenues as well as state and federal grants. The businesses located on-site generate more than $60 million for the local economy, according to a news release.

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