By Dan Spalding
MENTONE – Gray skies and cool temps could not damper the thrill of a helicopter ride Saturday.
Jaiden and Wesley were among the passengers who took part in the day-long rides at Rotors Over Mentone Saturday, Sept. 12 outside of the Bell Aircraft Museum.
Jason and Soundria Grizzle, of Akron, wanted to give Jaiden, 3, his first ride in a helicopter and got the chance after recently learning about the festival.
Rides were offered by Cleveland Helicopter Services. Single seats were $40, but three could ride for $100.
“It was great. We did it for him, he loved it,” Jason said.
He added, “We didn’t even know this was here until we saw it advertised.”
“It’s pretty neat – didn’t know something like this was so close to home.”
Wesley, a 54-year-old client of Cardinal Services, returned this year for what has become an annual event, according to Craig Tolley who accompanied him on the ride.
Wesley was carefully loaded into the front seat and given a headset for communications.
“Wesley had a good time,” Tolley said.
Aside from helicopter rides, the festival also had other aircraft on display. The main speaker had to cancel, but visitors heard a recap of the town’s history by Linda Cochran.
The biggest attraction this year was a Huey UH1H constructed in 1970. The helicopter is operated by United Huey 369, a group that educates and commemorates the past helicopters used in wars.
The group is headquartered at Grissom Air Field near Kokomo and is in the process of establishing a new museum with construction next summer.
Many of the members are military veterans.
“The Huey has been around for many years and has served a lot of purposes through the different wars. Just to be able to fly in with something with this much history behind it … you don’t see them too much anymore,” said Rick Marroni, crew chief on the flights.