Annual Heroes Take Flight Fly-in set for Saturday

May 10, 2010


May 10--Organizers of the annual Heroes Take Flight Fly-In hope a change in scheduling will create a change in the weather.

Jennifer Ryan, executive director of the American Red Cross Lee County Chapter, said bad weather has hampered the success of the annual fundraiser in March for the past two years.

By scheduling it later -- this year's event is Saturday -- organizers anticipate the weather will be better for flying, which will draw more of a crowd and financially benefit the local Red Cross chapter. May 15 was selected because it's Armed Forces Day.

"It allows us to celebrate our military and have the fly-in at the same time," Ryan said.

The event is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Auburn University Regional Airport.

"There's really something for everyone at the fly-in," said airport director Bill Hutto. "It's an event in which the entire family can participate and enjoy."

Entertainment will be offered throughout the day, including music by master of ceremonies and local pilot John Bodiford from Qantum Communications, parachutist Buddy Blue from Skydive Opelika, and a children's area with face painting, pony rides and inflatables. McGruff the crime dog and AU mascot Aubie are scheduled to make appearances. Military vehicles will be on display, as well as equipment from local police, fire and EMS.

This year's fly-in will feature special guest, AU alum and retired NASA astronaut Jim Voss. Ryan said Voss was scheduled to appear last year but didn't make it because of the weather. He will make a presentation to youngsters at approximately 10:30 a.m. He will be available the rest of the day for questions and autographs.

Ret. Major Gen. Ted Mallory of the Air National Guard is serving as chairman for the fly-in.

Ryan said they are expecting a number of military veterans to attend this year since approximately 350 pre-registered in March for VIP services at the event.

"Even in the bad weather, many of them still come out," she said.

Students in the ROTC program at Auburn High School will present the colors at noon, with the Opelika jazz band providing the music.

The fly-in is not an airshow where attendees can watch planes in the sky. All but a few of the 50 aircraft coming will remain grounded throughout the event, Ryan said.

"We are going to have stuff going on all day long on every corner of the airport," she said.

Parachutist Buddy Blue will take to the air twice. And the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation will offer helicopter rides for an additional fee.

Tickets are available for $8 at the gate or $5 in advance through Friday at Auburn and Opelika Kroger locations, the AU Regional Airport, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, Village Mall, Flip Flop Foto, the Opelika-Auburn News and the Lee County Red Cross office or online at Tickets for children 10 and younger are $2.

Attendees are encouraged to park at Lakeview Baptist Church, Winn-Dixie or the former Bruno's location on the corner of University and Glenn in Auburn and take a free shuttle to the airport. The shuttles will run continuously between the parking areas and airport during the fly-in.

All proceeds benefit the Lee County Red Cross.

If You Go

What: 2010 Heroes Take Flight Fly-In

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 15

Where: Auburn University Regional Airport.

Cost: For adults, $5 in advance or $8 at the gate. For children 10 and younger, $2. Advance tickets are available through Friday at Auburn and Opelika Kroger locations; AU Regional Airport, Auburn Chamber of Commerce, Village Mall; Flip Flop Foto; The Opelika-Auburn News; and the Lee County Red Cross office or online at