Benedum Airport Authority Set To Support Youth Aviation Expo

April 20, 2022

Apr. 20—BRIDGEPORT — The North Central West Virginia Airport has a busy summer on the horizon.

At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Benedum Airport Authority, the airport's governing body, met for its monthly meeting where it heard reports about upcoming events and plans that will land this summer.

The first of which was the announcement of the second annual Carl Hopkins Youth Aviation Expo, which lures students from all over the state to learn about aviation and career opportunities in West Virginia while having a bit of fun at the same time.

Ed Waske, the coordinator for the event, created the expo in honor of his late friend Carl Hopkins, who was passionate about the aviation industry and hobby aircraft.

Waske presented the general blueprint for the event, which will be held at The Bridge Sports Complex in Bridgeport in August.

"The whole idea is to show kids that this is what's out there whether you know it or not," Waske said. "Last year, we had it so kids could try out all the aspects of model aviation as well as explore the industry."

Waske made sure that the focus on the expo was not solely on piloting and maintenance and he ensured there was a diverse representation of the other aspects of the industry, he plans to do the same this year.

Last year's event lasted two days and brought in over 560 students, which Waske hopes to do just as well this year and reach farther across the state.

While Waske was the main organizer, he had help from the many organizations who are seeking to assist with the program again this summer, including NASA, Fairmont State University, Pierpont Community & Technical College and NCWV Airport.

The BAA board discussed committing $2,500 as it did last year, however the agreed to wait until next month's meeting to give a concrete commitment and Waske will return with more information at that time.

Several board members praised last year's expo and NCWV Airport Director Rick Rock said events like these are important to the airport and the aviation industry.

"It's all about creating awareness. I didn't step foot in an airplane until I was 21 years old, but these events introduce kids to the possibilities that are out there at an early age," Rock said. "The earlier you can introduce a kid to any particular industry, it helps them understand the opportunities that are out there."

Waske has many preliminary plans, like having helicopter tours, a hot air balloon, skydivers parachuting in and many of the exhibitions they had in 2021.

"To have support from the communities and from this airport really shows how serious the people are about aviation," Waske said.

The expo is set to take place Aug. 19- 20. More information will be released closer to the date, but information can be found on the event's Facebook page by searching @WVAviationExpo on Facebook.

Summer flights

In addition to the plans to support the expo, the Authority was briefed on the reopening of seasonal flights.

Airlines that serve NCWV will resume flights to Destin and Myrtle Beach this summer. This month the airport kicked off its flights to several of its other southern destinations.

"We know there are a lot of challenges out there in the industry that are out of our control — pilot shortage, fuel pricing — but we're staying optimistic," Rock said. "We have a lot of projects we're working on and we're looking forward to a busy summer."

Reach David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at [email protected].

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