MIDDLE RIVER — As buses rounded the corner on a road leading to an area at Martin State Airport staged with aircraft, children screamed with glee at the sight of the flying metal birds, “Wow! Look at the airplanes.” Several busloads were dropped off at the site throughout the day to see the planes for Open Cockpit Day on Oct. 16, and guests were allowed to get inside the cockpit.
“That is what we are trying to build, excitement about flying,” Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum’s communications director Debi Wynn said. “This event gives children an up-close look at airplanes and gives them exposure to aircraft, so that perhaps, they might think about learning to fly one day.”
For now, the museum is only able to host the events a couple times a year, partly because it faces a volunteer shortage. Several of the museum’s volunteers, in addition to Wynn, said that they hope that the event would peak the interest of children, so that they might volunteer one day.
“This is a great opportunity for kids to see the planes and perhaps consider volunteering to help out in the future,” said Bill Zelenakas, who signed up as a volunteer in 2010.
Each of the volunteers on Saturday said that they found the experience of volunteering highly satisfying, and were glad to give youth an in-depth look at aircraft and aviation history at the event.
Zelenakas, for example, said that the museum is one of several organizations that he volunteers at, and that he is a “professional volunteer at heart.” He said that he does not know much about airplanes, though he enjoys helping to keep the aircraft running smoothly, and teaching kids what he knows.
Other volunteers said that promoting an appreciation for history was why they saw the event as significant.
Volunteer Joe Corteal said that his father helped work on the Martin B-26 Marauder, a bomber produced by Martin during World War II, and a love of aviation history was nurtured from an early age.
“I know that everyone has their likes and dislikes, but I could not see how I could not do this,” Corteal said, in reference to volunteering.
Another volunteer Jim Armacost, who served in the U.S. Air Force in the 1960s, said that he also enjoys “keeping history alive” through events like this.
“I have always had an interest in airplanes, and events like this help me to connect with the aircraft, the history, and other people with the same interest,” he said.