Bad weather puts damper on show's flying attractionsWARRENTON - Every time 5-year-old Hayden Jenkins hears the walka-walka-walka of a helicopter, he runs out of the house and waves toward the sky.
At the annual Air Fair and Open House, hosted Saturday by the Port of Astoria and the U.S. Coast Guard, Hayden had the chance to see one of the shiny birds up close. He learned what all the levers are for and saw that there were even buttons on the ceiling.
"Yeah, I'd fly a Jayhawk," Hayden decided after climbing around inside.
Sydney Lamb, 4, and Alek Grider, 8, were likewise impressed.
"Let's go! We're driving!" Sydney yelled as she jiggled the cyclic, which controls the forward, aft, left and right motions of the helicopter.
When it was Alek's turn up front, he had tons of questions.
"What's this?" he said, fingering a button.
"That's the emergency release - don't press it," said his father, Christopher Lamb, a Coast Guard flight mechanic. Alek pointed again.
"That's the radar screen," Lamb said. "It can show stuff up to 20 miles ahead."
The static displays were some of the most popular attractions at this year's air fair, especially because the ceiling hovered below 1,000 feet for much of the day. The clouds were too low for many of the planes to fly. The Blackjack Squadron, which was scheduled to attend, couldn't get out of its home base in Anacortes, Wash.
KIM ERSKINE - The Daily Astorian
Illwaco Mayor Ed Leonard, former prisoner of war, speaks to the crowd during the opening ceremonies at the air show Saturday in Astoria."This isn't good weather for recreational flying," said Hillsboro pilot Dave Lenney. "It's instrument weather. "
The crowds were still able to see some Bonanzas, Cessnas and biplanes take to the air, and the Coast Guard demonstrated how it raises and lowers rescuers from its HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters. In what is becoming an annual stunt, the Coast Guard picked up an "illegally parked" vehicle and re-parked it with a devastating thud.
Gary Kobes, president of the Astoria Air Fair Association, said the air fair is a good chance for the port to present itself to the public and convey the measurable economic impact it makes.
It's also a chance to expose children to aviation through free airplane flights provided by the Young Eagles Program, although this year flights were grounded because of the fog.
"You never know whose life you're going to touch," Kobes said.
In his short speech during the afternoon, honored guest and Ilwaco, Wash., Mayor Ed Leonard said an air fair can spark dreams in children. At 12, Leonard himself got hooked on planes by attending a show at McChord Air Force Base in Washington with his cousin. Leonard later flew in Vietnam, participating in 250 combat missions.
"The true honored guests today are the youngsters," he said.
Jack Odneal, 5, probably didn't know just how pleased organizers were to see him soaking up all things flying. He was intent on alternately eating a giant hot dog and surveying the Coast Guard stunts - and just possibly getting a little hooked on aviation.
"Ooooooohhhhhh," he said, eyes growing large as he watched the excitement in the sky.