Johnstown airport fly-in 2016

Fourteen-year-old Gabe Helsel of Windber sits in the cockpit of a Black Hawk helicopter, talking about military training with Warrant Officer Zach Lundgren of the 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion during the Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, fly-in event sponsored by Nulton Aviation at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport.

Fourteen-year-old Gabe Helsel of Windber sits in the cockpit of a Black Hawk helicopter on Saturday, talking about military training with Warrant Officer Zach Lundgren of the 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion.

The unique opportunity illustrated the public awareness mission of the fly-in event sponsored by Nulton Aviation at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport. 

The fly-in featured two military helicopters, a corporate airplane and a variety of private planes.

It was an opportunity for those attending to see what is available at the airport, in addition to the regular commuter air service, Nulton Vice President Larry Nulton said. 

Gabe’s father, Tom Helsel, said the fly-in helped expand his son’s horizons. 

“I try to expose him to different things, because you never know,” he said. 

Saturday’s low-key event was planned as a not officially open to the public, but could lead to a larger event next year, Nulton said. 

“It was really meant to be a small thing,” he said. “We were trying to get this started. It was more for the business community.”

A public event would require more planning and publicity, with additional arrangements made for parking.

One of the more unique aircraft was a 1942 biplane taxied in from an airport hangar by Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority Chairman David Kalina. 

The working Boeing PT-13B Stearman was introduced as a training aircraft for the Army Air Corps during World War II, Kalina said. It is named for its designer, Lloyd Stearman.  

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

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