Wings & Wheels a hit on land and in the air

GEORGETOWN – Delaware Coastal Airport was abuzz with land-based and aerial excitement and entertainment Saturday at the 10th anniversary Wings & Wheels festival organizers are hailing an enormous success.

“It has been great,” said Linda Price, chairwoman of the Wings & Wheels Committee. “You couldn’t have asked for better weather. We were due for this.”

The six-hour event, held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., was presented by the Delaware Aviation Museum, Wheels That Heal Car Club and Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce. Premier sponsors included A.P. Croll & Sons, Mid-Atlantic Ford Dealers and Techno Goober.

Sometimes partly cloudy skies were filled throughout with planes of various vintage and sizes in the daylong fly-in, helicopter rides, an all-in-fun flour bombing event and precision parachute jumps by coaches from the U.S. Naval Academy.

The actual Naval Academy parachute team was obligated to join fellow midshipmen in Annapolis Saturday afternoon for Navy’s home football game with service academy rival Air Force.

Some 250 cars – and possibly more – drew plenty of spectator attention at the car show, hosted by the Wheels That Heal Car Club.

“At 1 p.m., there were still show cars coming in,” said Mr. Price.

Among the entries: a spiffy green 1965 Corvette owned by Chuck Walker of Millsboro. The Sting Ray’s odometer read 69,000 miles when he bought it 27 years ago in 1990. Today, it reads 72,000 miles. It is basically his show car at car shows.

“I don’t drive it to get groceries,” chuckled Mr. Walker. “When I want to drive in style I drive my Highlander!”

New prime location – at the bus/tram drop-off point for spectators – proved to be super draw for military re-enactors with the Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association’s encampment. Weaponry, jeeps and other vehicles and tent tours of World War II-era quarters, a motor pool and a plotting board used at nearby Fort Miles drew interest of spectators young, old and in between.

“That has been absolutely fantastic. People, as soon as they got off the bus, they tended to gravitate in here. We had a steady flow of people in here all day,” said Mike Rogers, a major with the 261st Coast Artillery that is part of the HDDLHA. “It has been wonderful.”

Ocean View resident Steve Huovinen, who toured the encampment with 6-year-old son Finnley, was fascinated by the encampment’s real-life look and smell.

“My dad was in Korea. So this is neat. It’s what it would have been like,” said Mr. Huovinen. “And we love the planes, too.”

Ms.. Price said initial vendor samplings were positive as well as overall feedback on Saturday’s festival and Friday night’s USO-style dinner show. “All in all, everything worked out very well,” she said.

On hand in shady comfort for most of the day was 102-year-old Lt. Col. Dick Cole, the last living member from the 80 Doolittle Raiders who took off in B-25 bombers from the carrier USS Hornet in the daring bombing raid on mainland Japan in April of 1942.

After that raid, Lt. Col. Cole became one of the key pilots in organizing the “Hump” flights from India through the treacherous Himalayas into China. After he returned to the states Lt. Col. Cole answered the call from John Richardson “Johnny” Alison, a highly-decorated pilot with the Flying Tigers, who was assembling a group that later became known as the 1st Air Commandos.

Lt. Col. Cole, recognized and toasted at Friday evening’s dinner show, earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses and numerous other awards for his military service.

Special, commemorative keepsake toasting glasses saluting Lt. Col. Cole and his 102nd birthday (Sept. 7) were on sale Saturday. All proceeds benefit the Doolittle Raider Scholarship Fund that supports students interested aviation.

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

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