Hangar sale aids Pearson Field Education Center projects

Teen aircraft assembly program, scholarships among beneficiaries

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer

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When the weather heats up and people start the process of spring cleaning, many host a garage sale as a way to clear the clutter and make an extra buck; the events at the Pearson Field Education Center were no different.

Officials at center tried something new, having a hangar sale Friday and Saturday to make a little room for some big projects and to raise money for a good cause.

Buyers on Friday and Saturday had the opportunity to dig through stacks of aircraft literature, office furniture and miscellaneous odds and ends — even an old piano. The extra cash helped fund a couple of scholarships for upcoming summer programs for children and teens at the center.

“We did very well and the sale exceeded expectations,” said Deborah Bessette, aviation program coordinator. “When people saw the proceeds go to education programs for kids, they gave a little more.”

The education center rents the adjacent hangar from the airport and previously used it for storage of unused displays and engine exhibits. But everything in there now is going to be cleared out for a whole new offering by the center.

This year, in late fall or early winter, the hangar will be the site of a program to teach teens about aircraft assembly. The hangar is already home to a small shop where teens will be able to cut, bend and rivet pieces to fully assemble aircraft.

Working with two donated kit airplanes — one fabric body, the other metal — teens will assemble the planes entirely from the frame out to the wings. The metal fuselage is in place at the back of the hangar, but education center director Garrett Schmidt said the new club might take it all the way down to the frame and start from scratch.

The two airplanes won’t be fully operational, though. Schmidt said the planes didn’t come with engines or avionics. Those parts cost thousands of dollars, so it’ll likely be awhile before the education center can get them.