By Jim Predmore
Since its inception, Aviation Day has continued to grow with approximately 3,000 people in attendance at last year’s event! The purpose of Aviation Day is to provide the citizens of Imperial County with a growing understanding of the contribution the airport provides to the local economy as well as the quality of life it enables here in Imperial Valley.
It is an “open house” for the community! That allows residents to visit their commercial airport, see the military and civilian aircraft that use our airport,t and uncover the mystery behind the chain link fence.
One of our most exciting portions of Aviation Day is the EAA Young Eagles flights for children between the ages of 8 thru 17. In the past three years over 400 local kids have flown in general aviation aircraft!
These hands-on flights help kindle the dreams and hopes of many of our kids! This extraordinary experience encourages our youth to further their education as well as seek an aviation career in diverse occupations such as engineers, aircraft mechanics and other facets of aviation.
While the children have the most fun flying around the valley, there were over 50 General Aviation and Military aircraft for the adults to explore. Aircraft owners and pilots are more than happy show their aircraft and answer any questions from the visitors. And when asked, they can also provide information on learning to fly.
In the parking lot area vendors were available with food, souvenirs and curios. Additionally, there were educational exhibits pertaining to aviation and the valley. Many of the exhibits highlight aviation career opportunities in industry, military and emergency services.
The Featured Aircraft: Marine Air Group 16, MAG-16, V-22 Osprey
The V-22 Osprey has been in service with the US Marines since 2000. Its tilt rotor design enables it to vertically land and take off similar to a helicopter, but then rotate its rotors into a forward configuration to enable forward flight like a cargo plane.
It can achieve speeds up to 315 MPH at sea level. The Osprey is capable of carrying 32 Soldiers or 20,000 pounds of cargo in various combat configurations that also include armament attachments.
You will frequently see Osprey practicing combat support maneuvers in the Holtville area and also coming in to Imperial County Airport for refueling during the day and at night. The evening appearances at Imperial County Airport are especially interesting as they often use their Rotor marker lights and remind you of aircraft in science fiction movies.