Aviation Day at Page Field inspires next generation of pilots

Pilots went to a local airport in Lee County for an event to show off their skills and inspire the next generation of aviators.

Aircraft could be seen and heard taking off at Page Field Airport in south Fort Myers Saturday for Aviation Day 2019 hosted by Lee County Port Authority.

These were not your average aircraft, and Robert Burns is not your average pilot. He built a plane all by himself, and he has flown it for the last 16 years.

“A lot of people don’t know that you can actually build an airplane in your garage,” Burns said. “And you can go out and fly it.”

At the aviation event, Burns brought his homemade aircraft to Page Field in hopes of catching the eyes of the next generation of pilots.

“We need airline pilots. We need aviation,” Burns said. “We need to get the kids involved and that’s the big thing about aviation day.”

Aelia Trainer is a member of Civil Air Patrol’s Naples Cadet Squadron. She is working to become a pilot and was one example of the future of flying at the day’s event.

“It’s great to see so many people who are so passionate about planes like I am,” Trainer said. “I myself am hoping on getting my private pilot’s license in the future.”

The annual event is about giving people, especially youth, a chance to be up close and personal with planes and pilots and even give them a chance to take a plane or helicopter ride.

The event was free, and Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida attended to collected donations for holiday meals for families in the area experiencing food insecurity.

The event also serves as a history lesson to those who attend.

“The inside is a museum exhibit about the Berlin Airlift,” said Timothy A. Chopp with the flight crew. “The whole idea is an educational exhibit, so people can learn this big part of history that took place after World War II.”

The exhibit serves as a place to preserve the past and inspire the future.

“Any time we can get them to see these planes and helicopters in person, it inspires them to get more interested in it and be excited to fly,” parent Jeff Barney said.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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