Pilots from all over Tri-State attend fly-in

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

SYBENE — Maybelle Lee can remember the first time she flew in an airplane. It was in 1962 and she was at Purdue University in Indiana. The plane was a high-wing, two- seater.

“I thought my stomach was going to fall out,” she said. But something about that flight must have sparked her interest and kept her coming back for one more ride. It has been more than 40 years and she is still flying with her husband, Don. The Huntington, W.Va., couple were among those taking part in the Spring Fling fly-in at Lawrence County Airpark Saturday.

Sponsored by the Tri-State Pilots Association, the annual event drew a dozen or so pilots from southern Ohio and Western West Virginia.

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“This gives us the opportunity to spend time together,” TPA President Dan Pelfrey said. “We (the organization) do a lot of work around the airport so the money raised is used to help with maintenance, cutting grass and purchasing needed supplies. And it also helps to make the public aware of what we have here.”

Marie Phillips, whose company, Attitude Aviation, operates the airpark, agreed.

“The airport belongs to the citizens of Lawrence County and we like to open it up to the community so they can see what we have to offer,” she said.

The pilots association also offers the flying experience to local students through its Eagle Flights program. Sponsored nationally by the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Eagle Flights programs allows young people the chance to fly in small planes in hopes of keeping the love of aviation soaring into the next generation.

The most recent group to take part in the local program was an ROTC group from Russell (Ky.) High School.

“For many of them, that was their first flight,” Don Lee said. “It was a good group of kids.”

Don Lee said he would like to see Lawrence County youth take advantage of the opportunity. Interested groups may call him at (304) 614- 4047 or call Pelfrey at (304) 617-1340.