Aviation Fun Day prepares for landing in Midland on April 1

For those who attended their first AIRSHO in Midland last September, it was love at first flight.

Now it’s time for a second date.

On Saturday, April 1, local families are invited to return to Midland International Air & Space Port to get an up-close look at those gorgeous vintage planes at Aviation Fun Day. The event is family-friendly and free, although donations are welcome.

Hosted by CAF High Sky Wing and CAF Desert Squadron and sponsored by Chevron, Aviation Fun Day welcomes visitors to the Midland Army Air Field Museum to experience the sights and sounds of WWII.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., attendees can check out historic aircraft and military vehicles, view a Living History exhibit, tour the museum, and speak with pilots, mechanics, veterans and CAF members about history, being a docent or embarking upon an aviation career.

The event aims to inspire the next generation of aviation industry professionals and serves as a reminder of the Permian Basin’s proud aviation history.

The event is in part held to inspire the next generation of aviation industry professionals, but it more so serves as a reminder of the Permian Basin’s proud history of aviation, including the WWII planes that helped fight for and earn our freedom, according to Event Director Gena Linebarger.

“And WWII inspired the greatest generation of aviators,” Linebarger said.

From 1942-1945, the Midland Army Airfield was transformed into a bombardier training school that graduated 6,627 bombardier officers to supply to the war effort. That training school, along with the “magic” high-octane aviation fuel produced right here in the Permian Basin, played significant roles in the Allied victory in WWII.

Today, 80 percent of the aircraft exhibited at the museum can still fly, said Linebarger.

At Aviation Fun Day, families can relive that past, while also considering their potential futures in the aviation industry. To that end, event sponsor Chevron plans to bring its Praetor 600, a technologically advanced super-midsize business jet, to exhibit at the event. Two crew members assigned to the Praetor 600 will be on hand to show off the jet and answer questions for people curious about aviation.

Justin Gabaree, aviation manager of Chevron’s Houston Aircraft Operations, said riding on a small corporate airplane at 10 years old helped inspire his career in aviation. At Aviation Fun Day he wants to pass that forward by inspiring the next generation.

“We love showing people what the aviation industry is like and the variety of jobs they can pursue,” said Gabaree.

Even those who have no interest in working at 10,000 feet will enjoy Aviation Fun Day. Linebarger credits Chevron, which also sponsored the AIRSHO in September, for keeping prices to these events low.

“Aviation Fun Day is a free event, there’s so few of those anymore,” she said, “And it’s something fun and enriching that we can bring to the community.”