COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP, PA — Keep your eyes to the skies this Sunday at the Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport in Coolbaugh Township – or take a ride in the sky yourself. Free plane rides for kids are the big draw for an event this weekend.
"It's the only opportunity they may have in their life to do it," said Gina Bertucci, head of the Community Day Aviation event committee. "It's inspiring. In fact, it's life-changing. Many of them come back and end up having some connection to the airport and flying."
This airport is operated by Moyer Aviation. Vern Moyer is the founder of this unique event.
"Back in the, it must have been the mid-90s, we always had a small breakfast, a 'fly-in breakfast' we called it. And it used to be more pilots would fly in."
Now it's called Community Aviation Day, and it's hosted by the Rotary of Mount Pocono.
The organization picks a different cause to support every year. This time, it's the East Stroudsburg Salvation Army.
"That's huge. We need all the money we can get to help all the people that come to us," said Major John Wheeler.
Major Wheeler says in 2021, the Salvation Army gave out more than two million meals to people in need in the Poconos.
"That's just the food part of what we do. We've housed a couple hundred families over the past year. The shelter is full all the time. It's a busy place. A lot of work to do, and it all takes a lot of money."
This event has been on the calendar several times over the past two years, but it kept getting postponed.
"It was hard," Bertucci said. "Every time we had it planned, then COVID had a different plan."
Finally, it's back. The event itself is free - from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. - and includes an antique car show, a parachute jump display, a special Memorial Day salute, a helicopter candy drop, military displays, and of course, those free plane rides for kids ages 8 -17.
Money is raised through tickets for the pancake breakfast and helicopter or plane rides for adults. It's $10 a plate for adults and $6 for kids.
For an adult helicopter ride, it's $70, and for a plane ride, it's $35.
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