BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WBOY) – The second annual “Carl Hopkins Youth Aviation Expo” will be held on August 19 and 20 at the Bridgeport Recreation Complex between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Attendants on Friday saw a black hawk helicopter flying around the event and land in the parking lot, where it was on display. After that, Health Net’s helicopter also landed for those to look at, but as duty calls, that helicopter will be in and out of the event both days.

Activities that will be happening Friday include:

  • Control line flying
  • Rocket launches
  • Flight simulators
  • Free flight
  • Radio control flying
  • Rock climbing
  • Helicopter viewings

At 10 a.m. on August 20, they will have three paramotors—people in parachutes with motors attached—flying overhead. They will light smoke on their boots and land in the soccer field.

Admission is free, but a “Mr. Taco” food truck and a shaved ice truck were there for people to purchase items if wanted.

There are over $3,000 worth of plane and rocket prizes to be given away or won. Prizes can be won by participating in the activities around the expo. There is also a round-trip ticket for two to St. Petersburg Florida, a pool party that was donated by the bridge city net center, and a rock climbing party to be given away.

This event is for kids to have exposure to the different types of discipline in aviation, and gives them something to think about. The mission of the expo is to give back. Ed Waske, the organizer of the Expo, mentioned that he had people to point him in the right direction when he was younger, and he wanted to be able to do that for the youth.

Waske also wants the youth to know that there are many different types of fields within aviation to look into. He said, “we’re also trying to let people know that there are so many, experts, mechanics, pilots, astronauts, that are all doing what we were doing. And that it can lead into a great career if you so desire. And there’s just more than pilots and mechanics. There’s all types of other fields that you could do.”

The table of free prizes (WBOY Image)

When coming up with the idea for the expo, Waske mentioned that he had a friend named Gerald “Jerry” Collett, who passed away. The family wanted to dispose of all of the model things, and put the money back into aviation for kids. To keep it in West Virginia, they wanted to start this event. During the process of bringing the idea to fruition, he got a call from a man in Clarksburg who was part of a group called “Carl’s boys.” Carl Hopkins started the first model airplane club back in 1928, and they did contests at the airport. Hopkins had said back then, that the future of aviation was in the youth, so he continued with the program until he passed. His two surviving daughters attended the expo last year and might make an appearance this year if their health is in good standing.

Last year alone, they had 560 youth who signed in. Waske is hoping to have even more kids this year. As of noon on Friday, over 130 families had already checked into the aviation expo.

The expo was made possible from donations from those around the field, the Bridge Complex and the airport. Waske would like to thank all of those who have helped make the event possible.