By Tech. Sgt. Josh Mead, 103rd Airlift Wing
/ Published July 31, 2009
BRADLEY ANG BASE, East Granby, Conn. -- Roughly 5,000 people participated in Space and Aviation Day events jointly hosted by the Bradley Air National Guard Base, the New England Air Museum and the Connecticut Fire Academy July 18. Despite an early morning rain, the event had a larger turnout than the previous year.
The day started with an early morning 5K run that was launched off the flightline on base and proceeded across the tarmac under the wing of a KC-135, and then traversed out the main gate to the air museum and back to the finish line outside the rear gate at the base.
Master Sgt. Michael Johnson, accounting liaison office technician, 103rd Financial Management, participated in the race.
"Sometimes the scenery of a race can make it a lot more enjoyable. In this case, a flat course around the airplanes, that makes it really nice for the first third of a mile," Johnson said.
The 5K Space Race, along with open houses at the three different venues comprise the charity event that helps to raise money for Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang located in Ashford, Conn.
"It's a summer camp founded by Paul Newman in 1988 for children who have cancer sickle cell, HIV, different serious illnesses. And it's just a place for them to go to have fun for a week," said Peter McBride, representing the Hole in the Wall Gang during the race.
"Over the 20 years, we have spawned off a hospital out-reach program where we go visit the kids in the hospitals. If they are too sick to come to camp we can go to them."
"Your money is going to a great, great cause," said McBride, who also came in first overall for the 5K with a time of 16 minutes 37 seconds.
After the race, the gates to the flightline opened allowing people to walk on to get up close and personal with several different aircraft that had flown in for the open house.
"My favorite part is definitely the aircraft. People come out here and get a chance to go out on the ramp where they don't normally get the opportunity to do that. (They can) talk to the pilots, learn about the specialties of the individual aircraft--and I think that, coupled with exposing people to what the camp is all about," said Kathy Maznicki, vice president, Bradley Family Day, Inc., the organization responsible for organizing the event.
A sampling of the aircraft present at Space and Aviation Day included a KC-135 from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., an SH-60R "Seahawk" from Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and a UH-1N "Huey" and Kaman KMAX, a counter rotating blade helicopter, provided by Lockheed Martin, Binghamton, N.Y.
Air Force, Navy, civilian and Department of Homeland Security aircraft and pilots also participated, showing off their airframes and fielding questions from visitors young and old. Because of the efforts of Staff Sgt. Steven Sevigny from the CIRF, the ramp also featured civilian experimental home-built aircraft from EAA Chapter 166 of Greater Hartford.
Additionally, one of the 103rd's own C-21 pilots, Maj. Brian Hebert flew in on a Department of Homeland Security AS350B helicopter out of Long Island.
Outside the flightline, there was face painting, arts and craft stations and concessions set up for the Space and Aviation Day patrons.
Over a period of 10 years, Bradley Family Day, Inc. has raised over half a million dollars to benefit the Hole in the Wall Gang. This year, Space and Aviation day brought in approximately $6,000 to benefit the camp.
"The camp is a free camp. All of these that go to the camp don't have to pay a dollar. It's all raised through fundraisers like this or private donors," said Maznicki.