The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 24, 2013

Pilots battle for barnstorming prizes

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — Cutting through the clear-blue skies, more than 50 pilots at Penn Valley Airport on Saturday competed for $500 first-place prizes in four barnstorming events.

Fliers battled in a flour-bomb drop, in which pilots dropped black baggies filled with 12 ounces of flour from 200 feet, trying to hit an on-ground bull’s-eye; a poker run, in which pilots flew to six regional airports and drew a card at each to create their “hand”; and shortest takeoff and spot landing competitions.

Included in the glory of winning: $500, which two pilots — Dr. Russ Stankiewicz, of Lewisburg; and Bob Stanley, of Middleburg — donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Baltimore, which was also the beneficiary of all entrance fees to Saturday’s event.

“It’s just an excuse to go out and fun,” said Bruce Witkop, chairman of the Penn Valley Airport Authority, standing near the three yellow boxes that made up the flour-bomb target.

About 50 spectators watched the planes flying in and out of the airport throughout the day, enjoying seeing the aircraft in action.

“I love planes,” said Jesse Aigler, of Mifflinburg, who took videos and photos with his cell phone as planes flew by. “The noise, seeing it from here, it’s neat.”

Margie Gralinski, of Liverpool, remembers watching airplanes and helicopters with her father, a member of the Navy Reserve. She came to the show to watch the planes and to make a case, she said.

“I want to convince my husband to take flying courses,” she said.

Bringing the community out to the airport is one of the main purposes of events like Saturday’s, said Dave Hall, Penn Valley Airport’s director of operations.

“We want to promote the airport as a destination,” he said. “This is the public’s airport. It’s not Heritage Aviation’s airport.”

The airport has hosted popular air shows in past several summers, but decided to try something new this year, Hall said. Plus, sequester cuts have made air shows more difficult to host.

“Military (aircraft that travel to shows) are having a tough time this year getting funding from the usual sources,” he said.

The event raised $1,700 for St. Jude’s hospital, airport manager Jim Taylor said.

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