Our first man of flight
“Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are to busy to notice it, and it's stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.”
K.O. Eckland, “Footprints on Clouds”
To no one's great surprise, it was announced at the New Garden Board of Supervisors meeting on Nov. 25 that New Garden Flying Field Manager Jon Martin was named to the Pennsylvania Aero Club, a statewide association formed to promote aviation throughout Pennsylvania.
To the board, to the township staff, to the many pilots who use the air field, and to the thousands of individuals and families who regularly attend events at the flying field on Newark Road, such a distinction is not only a well-deserved honor, it's also a no-brainer, because it is practically inarguable that no one in Southern Chester County has done more to promote aviation in this area over the past few years than Martin.
Martin will be the first to say that he did not get there by himself. Through the assistance of a small army of volunteers, the air field's 42nd annual Air Show held this past August sold 4,500 tickets, raised over $6,400 in sponsorship money, and turned in a profit of more than $18,000. Over the years, the Air Show has become known to aviation enthusiasts as “The Biggest Little Air Show in the East,” and regularly draws thousands from all over the United States, who marvel at aircraft that flew over foreign lands in world wars.
Again with the help of a dedicated team of teachers, the air field's Future Aviators Summer Camp, held July 8-12 and Aug. 5-9, earned a profit of $9,222 and drew 104 campers, up from the 28 campers who attended the first camp in 2009. Every year, the air field is turned into an outdoor classroom that enables young people to transport themselves from flights of fancy to flights of reality. Children as young as seven years old get an opportunity to attend flight school, where they learn the basics of pre-flight planning and navigation. They design, build and fly their own balsa airplanes. They learn about how an airplane is made, using fabric, wood and metal. They take day trips to the National Air and Space Museum. Most importantly, they embark on their introductory flight with a certified flight instructor.
Author K.O. Eckland, an author, commercial artist and aviation enthusiast, was correct. To those of us who have a wish to slip into some wings, our boundaries, once elusive, are made imaginable. However, it takes others to help them get there. For the thousands who visit the New Garden Flying Field every year, and most especially to the young people who attend aviation camp there, Jon Martin helps people out of the smallish box of their dreams and into the infinite expanse of the sky.