By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Calaveras County Airport will be abuzz Saturday with airplanes, helicopters and remote control planes soaring overhead, and antique airplanes and cars sitting with pride on the tarmac. There will be games for children, face painting, a martial arts demonstration, and even the chance to meet Smokey Bear and admission is free.
It's all part of the 10th annual Airport Day.
Begun by Karen David, and still organized by the Angels Camp resident, Airport Day is designed to introduce young people and their families to the county's only airport.
"When I was working as a classroom aide in Valley Springs, the kids didn't even know there was an airport in our county," said David. "The airport provides so much to Calaveras County jobs, a way for people to commute to the Bay Area and I wanted the students to learn about the airport, and to have the experience of flying in an airplane."
Flying is one of the main events of the day. Five-dollar plane rides are a tradition at Airport Day.
Saturday, the $5 rides will be offered from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.. All the money raised will go to support the Calaveras County Adult Literacy Program.
"The pilots donate their time and fuel," David said. "They'll fly from the airport to Angels Camp, then over to San Andreas and back. It's a good 20-minute flight."
Seeing Calaveras from the air also gives a new appreciation of the county's beauty, David said.
"We have people in their 60s who have never flown in a small plane before," she said. At Airport Day, they can enjoy their first small plane ride in a Cessna 195, which has five seats, or an even smaller plane, a Cessna 140, with just two seats, or anything in between, David added.
She said National Guard helicopters will be at the airport, and the California Department of Forestry will demonstrate how a water tanker douses wildfires.
"This is one of the last community events where all the various groups work together to give children and adults a truly unique experience that's full of fun," David said.