Queen City Airport is site for Scout aviation badge
The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, partnering with PennDOT aviation officials, held a three-day aviation and youth activity as part of the department's National Aviation Day celebrations held Aug. 18 through 20 at 11 airports statewide.
The event, now in its third year in Pennsylvania, offers students the opportunity to participate in activities designed to meet Scouting aviation badge requirements, learn about aviation and share in the 74th annual nationwide celebration.
National Aviation Day, established in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is annually observed in the United States Aug. 19 to celebrate the history of and promote interest in the development of aviation. It coincides with the birthday of Orville Wright who, together with his brother Wilbur, made significant contributions to powered flight.
Pennsylvania's events occurred over three days as the national celebration occurs on a Sunday this year. Scouts from Troop 364, in Coopersburg, and Troop 317, in Bethlehem Township, got an up-close orientation of private aviation and small-plane flight from two private pilots who use Queen City Airport as their flying home airport Aug. 20.
Richard Grudzinski, of Allentown, gave the Scouts an in-depth look at his 1969 Cessna Cardinal aircraft he bought with four other pilots in 1975.
The four-cylinder, 180-horsepower craft would today cost about $180,000 new, but he bought it used when it was six-years-old for "considerably less."
Grudzinski said a pilot's license could be had back in the 60s and 70s for about $500 of flight instruction and fuel. "Now you're looking at more like $6,000 to qualify for a license mostly because of the increase in fuel costs."
Grudzinski said he has flown the craft to places like the Bahamas, Maine and Las Vegas, and he never gets tired of the thrill of flight.
In addition to meeting the requirements for the Scouting aviation merit badge, the youngsters received a flight over the Lehigh Valley by Grudzinski and Jack Godtfring, of Emmaus, who showed off his smaller Cessna 180 to the Scouts.