Group looking at Hannibal Regional Airport for events associated with the city's celebration
Hannibal Regional Airport could be one of the venues used for bicentennial events being planned in 2019.
Karen Burditt, city finance director and a member of the bicentennial planning group, says it makes sense to include the airfield when making celebration plans.
“The airport is a part of the history of Hannibal,” she said.
During the Feb. 8 meeting of the Airport Advisory Board it was reported that the possibility was explored of bringing the Collings Foundation's “Wings of Freedom Tour” to Hannibal at some point next year. The tour features an assortment of World War II era aircraft, including two fully-restored bombers — a B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortress.
The tour, however, will be unable to land here because the 4,400-foot runway is approximately 100 feet too short and at 100 feet is 50 feet too narrow, according to Burditt.
“It would have been awesome,” said Burditt of bringing the tour to Hannibal.
A proposal that would have seen the tour of vintage planes land in Quincy and possibly do a flyover of Hannibal, never got off the ground since a major objective is to provide events for people to attend in America's Hometown, not elsewhere.
The possibility of bringing vintage aircraft to Hannibal Regional Airport is still alive. It was noted that Barron Aviation Private Flight Services, which operates out of the Hannibal airport, has a North American T-6, a World War II era fighter trainer. It is also likely that one or more of Mike Barron's Grumman Albatrosses will be parked at the airport by then.
Depending on when the event takes place it was proposed that pilots of vintage planes bound for the July 23-29 annual air show in Oshkosh, Wis., might be willing to stop in Hannibal for a fly-in.
“It's early enough to get things coordinated,” said George Walley of the airport board.
Burditt said she had hoped to stage an event at the airport on or around the June 26 anniversary of William P. Lear's 1902 birth in Hannibal. The airport was renamed Hannibal Regional Airport, William P. Lear Field in 2003 in honor of the inventor of the Lear Jet.
Another airport event being discussed is a ball, which would take place in a hangar on Veterans Day in November, marking an end of the months-long bicentennial celebration. Because parking is limited at the airport, attendees could be bused in from a designated parking area.
“It would be fun to do,” said Walley.
Providing “fun” events during the bicentennial celebration is an objective, according to Burditt. “We don't just want to bring visitors to Hannibal during the bicentennial, we also want to provide things for residents to attend because it's their celebration,” she said.
Mayor James Hark said staging bicentennial events at the airport will help create a feeling of “ownership” of the facility for non-aviation residents, most of whom are not familiar with its features.
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org