|By Carmelo Turdo|
The much anticipated annual Open House was held Saturday at St. Charles County (Smartt Field) Airport. The event, sponsored by the airport, St. Charles Flying Service, the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 32 was well attended despite being postponed for a week by weather. The airport was inundated with flood water for most of the spring and summer, but the Open House went on (nearly) as scheduled mostly due to perseverance of volunteers from the sponsoring organizations. The Aero Experience was again on site to bring to you our coverage of the day's activities and encourage everyone to attend this and other Midwest Aviation events whenever possible!
Upon arrival at the airport, one can quickly gain a sense of appreciation for the rich aviation history of the region. The airport is also referred to as Smartt Field in honor of Ensign Joseph G. Smartt, killed in action on December 7, 1941 while serving with Patrol Squadron 11 at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Dallas, Texas native was commended for his actions in alerting the Kaneohe Naval Base to the air attack. The USS Smartt, Destroyer Escort DE-257, was also named for him. Ensign Smartt took flight training at Naval Reserve Air Station, St. Louis (Robertson), Missouri. A marker, sponsored by the Missouri CAF Wing, is located near the wing's hangars.
The Missouri Commemorative Air Force Wing is based at Smartt Field, in part using an historic wood hangar dating to the 1940s when the U.S. Navy conducted flight training there. The CAF Wing's missions are to preserve World War II aviation history and share that history with the public using the actual hardware of the period (aircraft, vehicles, etc.). The wing also has a museum containing significant historic artifacts. The World War II-era aircraft and vehicles were on display next to a lookout tower representing Tacloban Field, Leyte, Philippines. The Missouri Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Wing aircraft, North American B-25J Mitchell, Grumman (General Motors) TBM-3E Avenger and Aeronca L-3E, were on display. They are shown below being towed out of their hangars for the morning static display following an engine run-up by the TBM crew.
Several warbirds besides the Missouri CAF Wing aircraft were available for public display. Included here are Mark Schuler's Nanchang CJ-6A and John Fester's North American T-28A Trojan. These former military trainers also performed other important missions during their military service such as weapons training, forward air control and counter-insurgency.
Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 32 is also based at the airport, and they had an excellent display inside and outside their hangar. The chapter pilots volunteer their time and aircraft to give Young Eagle flights to youth aged 8-17 each month through the spring and summer annually. Chapter members build and fly their aircraft throughout the year and are always ready to give advice and assistance to others in the local aviation community. Here we show a Zenith CH750 STOL aircraft under construction (an Explorer project) and experimental aircraft on display outside of the hangar where the monthly meetings and Young Eagle flights are held.
Local pilots flew in and displayed their aircraft on the apron. Included here are a variety of general aviation, experimental and vintage types.
The pumpkin drop began at 10:00 A.M. and continued through the afternoon. Crews flew their aircraft or rented them from St. Charles Flying Service, aiming their small pumpkins at an aircraft wreck target. At noon, the Missouri CAF B-25J Mitchell Show Me and Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber made several pumpkin bombing runs and also several more passes to the approval of the gathering crowd.
According to St. Charles Flying Service official results, the pumpkin drop champions were: First Place: John Gittemeier; Second Place: Scott Zimmer; and Third Place: Jeff Stephenson.
The Aero Experience thanks St. Charles County Airport, St. Charles Flying Service, EAA Chapter 32 and Missouri CAF Wing personnel for producing a safe and successful Midwest Aviation event!