Familiar favorites, new twists on tap for Wings & Wheels 2018

Members of the Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association welcome retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole to last year’s Wings & Wheels dinner show.

GEORGETOWN — Fingers remain crossed for wonderful early autumn weather the first weekend in October.

And prayers, hopes and well-wishes for good health and safe travel continue for a United States military legend and iconic centurion — retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole.

Less than three months from liftoff of the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce’s 11th Wings & Wheels festival, organizers say the latest word is Lt. Col. Cole, the last surviving member of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, plans to attend the Oct. 5–6 event at the Delaware Coastal Airport.

“As of this moment, Dick Cole is planning to be here,” Wings & Wheels committee chairwoman Linda Price said last Friday.

Co-pilot with then Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle in the bold April 1942 bombing raid on Japan, Lt. Col. Cole will turn 103 this Sept. 7.

Lt. Col. Cole, a close associate of local pilot/aviation historian Larry Kelley, has attended a number of Wings & Wheels events, including last year.

“He’s still traveling. Dick has told Larry as late as two weeks ago that his intent is to be here. He’ll be 103,” said Ms. Price.

Wings & Wheels 2018 features popular returning staples and some new twists.

Former NASA Shuttle Commander and honored U.S. Navy pilot Joe Edwards, right, returns to Wings & Wheels as keynote speaker for the Pathways to Aviation Day Oct. 5.

The event kicks off Friday, Oct. 5 with Pathways to Aviation Day. Upward of 125 high school students with interest in some field of aviation will spend the day at the airport learning from aviation experts. Featured speaker for Aviation Day is former NASA Shuttle Commander and honored U.S. Navy pilot Joe Edwards.

And Chubby Checker’s pop hit “The Twist” is part of a shift in the Friday night dinner show extravaganza. After several years of showcasing the World War II big band/swing era, the dinner show graduates to the next decade.

The evening of Oct. 5 will feature Kathie Martin & The Hot Rods for the Fabulous 50’s Greaser’s Ball in a hangar at the Delaware Coastal Airport.

“It was a 40s big band kind of thing and I think that kind of ran its course. We’re going to the 50s and we’ve gotten a lot of really great feedback from people for this event,” said Ms. Price.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, the airport grounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will be the venue for a vintage aircraft fly-in, car show, featured speakers, live entertainment and craft and food vendors.

Back again will be the military re-enactment component. This year’s theme is expected to focus on the history of the Georgetown airport and its role during World War II.

Also returning is the fan-favorite Flour Bombing Competition at 2 p.m. as well as the official U.S. Naval Academy Parachute Team, which will be doing precision jumps periodically throughout the day.

Opening ceremonies on Oct. 6 include the National Anthem and presentation of colors by the Sussex Central ROTC Color Guard.

Musical entertainment on Wings & Wheels Saturday is the Glass Onion Band, a popular Delmarva band.

The Georgetown Boys & Girls is coordinating activities for kids.

There is free spectator admission to the airport grounds with a $5 per-vehicle parking fee at designated parking areas.

Wings & Wheels is again supported by presenting sponsors A.P. Croll, Northrup Grumman and Mid-Atlantic Ford Dealers, plus VIP partners that include Nanticoke Health Services, The Voice Radio Network, Splash DesignWorks, CHEER, Fulton Bank, Lighthouse Catering, Sussex Eye Center, Wilmington University, County Bank, Sussex County Delaware, and Southern Delaware Tourism.

Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

For vendor or car show registration information or to purchase tickets for the Fabulous 50’s Greaser’s Ball, visit the Wings & Wheels website at http://www.wings-wheels.com/ or call the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce 856-1544.

Pathways to Aviation

In addition to Commander Edwards, the educational event will feature U.S. Air Force Capt. Hannah Wisnieski, a C-17 pilot, plus a virtual reality component provided by Jimmy Wheatley of VR Wheatley and various vendors.

“It really falls more in line with what the schools are doing now,” said Ms. Price. “We will have less speakers and have students spend more interactive time with the vendors. We have capped it at 100 to 125 kids, so we have more manageable groups.”

Fabulous 50’s Greaser’s Ball

Kathie Martin & The Hot Rods will be the only performing act.

“We are going to do a costume contest, Hula Hoop and Twist contests, getting people out there really having a good time,” said Ms. Price.

Ticket price is $50 per person and includes dinner from Lighthouse Catering.


Wings & Wheels aviation component is not an air show but a voluntary fly-in. Heavily dependent on weather, past festivals have featured a wide variety of vintage, classic and military aircraft. Like the U.S. Air Force, Wings & Wheels organizers are aiming high for 2018.

A longtime festival fixture has been Panchito, Larry Kelley’s B-25 bomber.

“According to Larry, this year we will probably have one of the largest contingents of aircraft than we have ever had, if the weather holds,” said Ms. Price.

Car show

This year’s car show is under the Wings & Wheels committee umbrella. John Kenney is coordinating the car show event, which features 50 trophies, plus one for “Best of Show” and dash plaques for the first 100 registered vehicles.


Parking on Oct. 6 is at Sussex Academy with overflow parking in Sterling Square. Airport Road and Railroad Avenue will close at 10 a.m.

Shuttle service includes three people-movers and two school buses. Some handicap parking will be available at Sussex Academy at a designated area near the shuttle drop-off/loading area. “We did it last year and it worked very well for us,” said Ms. Price.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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