Long Beach Airport’s Festival of Flight celebrates local aviation
November 6, 2019
Local police departments, nonprofit organizations, flight schools and plane enthusiasts gathered on the Long Beach Airport (LGB) tarmac to engage with the community for LBG’s annual Festival of Flight on Saturday, Nov. 2.
The Long Beach Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department invited guests to sit inside search and rescue helicopters used by the departments. Private helicopter operators also sold aerial tours over downtown Long Beach to attendees.
The non-profit organization, SafeLaunch, founded a decade ago by retired Navy Commander Ron Cuff, participated in the Festival of Flight for the third time this year.
SafeLaunch uses aeronautical events to bring awareness to underage addiction and drug use. The organization has participated in 47 events so far in the states of California, Arizona and Massachusetts by speaking to parents and children about the dangers of substance abuse.
To spread awareness among youth, SafeLaunch created its Flights Above Addiction program. The program invites groups of student artists to visit regional airports for an interactive science lesson on addiction. Students are then asked to paint representations of their dreams for the future on the sides of an airplane.
For the Festival of Flight, Cuff brought a painted single engine plane decorated with streamers bearing the names of young people who died as a result of drug addiction.
Cuff’s plane serves as a reminder of the approximately 200 Americans who die from drug overdose each day.
“There are 200 young people memorialized on my plane and that represents one day’s worth of overdose deaths in the United States,” Cuff told the Signal Tribune. “It’s like a 737 crashing everyday. We’re just trying to bring awareness to what’s going on.”
The Long Beach based flight school, Aces Aviation, also brought a booth and a single engine plane from 1941 to display. Aces Aviation encouraged community members at the festival to try flying lessons at its school.
“Normally we encourage [students], before they start training, to come in and do a demo flight,” Aces Aviation employee Sam Raymond said. “Which is just a one hour short flight […], to see if they’re really interested in it and then carry on from there.”
Aces Aviation trains student pilots for certifications ranging from the initial private pilot’s license to the commercial pilot’s license required of professional pilots.
Besides working as a flight school, Aces Aviation also rents aircraft for pilots to use 24 hours a day.
The festival featured numerous displays of both small single engine planes as well as massive multi engine aircraft.
Multi engine aircrafts that were displayed included passenger, police and military vessels. Two of the multi-engine planes, a C-17 Globemaster and KC-10 Extender, were manufactured in Long Beach. Both are military planes, with the C-17 Globemaster being used for transport and the KC-10 Extender for refueling.
Music for the event was provided by the bands California Feetwarmers, The Satin Dollz and Knyght Ryder.
Food was available for purchase from the food trucks Sun of a Bun, Chancho’s Tacos and more.