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Carolina General Aviation says goodbye to Horace Williams Airport with final flying event

A Cessna plane at Horace Williams Airport during the what may be the last flying event the airport may hold.

With a little over a month remaining until the closure of Horace Williams Airport, Carolina General Aviation hosted its second flying event Sunday.

Experiencing unusually high levels of traffic, Horace Williams Airport was filled with both passengers and planes. Carolina General Aviation brought in about 24 people for an aerial tour of the University.

Everyone was divided into groups that took off at different times, with the flight generally lasting for about twenty minutes. Founder and Vice President of Carolina General Aviation Daniel Schwartz and President of Carolina General Aviation Sevryn Schaller were the two pilots taking students on aerial tours.

During the pre-flight check, the pilots gave a brief description of the different parts of the plane. They then turned on the engine and propeller, and the plane taxied toward the runway.

The winds were slow, the clouds were few and the sun was shining bright as the planes rushed toward the sky.

Sophomore member of Carolina General Aviation Shannon Grant flew more than once Sunday and encouraged all those who have never flown general aviation before to grasp the opportunity if it comes their way. 

She also said that general aviation is more about experiencing the flight, while commercial aviation is focused on getting from one place to another.

“I would never have flown in my life probably if I hadn’t been in this club or it hadn’t existed,” Grant said.

Students had the opportunity to fly the plane for a short time, but there was a small surprise waiting for them, which Grant said was her favorite part of the flight.

About 10 minutes into the flight, students had the opportunity to experience zero gravity. In Schwartz’s plane, he adjusted the controls and within seconds the forces of gravity weakened, letting people float like they were astronauts.

Scheduled to close in May, Schwartz advocated in favor of keeping Horace Williams Airport open to the transportation policy adviser to Rep. Tim Moore, Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Schwartz was notified Friday that the General Assembly is probably not going to step in and prevent the closure of the airport.

The General Assembly prevented the closure of the airport in 2002 and for many this was seen as a means of last resort to keep the airport open again this year.

Schwartz said the club held the event to introduce students to general aviation, but also as an opportunity to say goodbye to the airport.

Schaller said even if the airport closes, Carolina General Aviation will continue at Raleigh Executive Jetport. Raleigh Executive Jetport is about a 35 minute drive, but is only a four minute flight to campus. He hopes the club will continue to grow and introduce more people to general aviation.

“But also it’s sort of like saying goodbye, you know what I mean, because we still have hope, but they’ve set a closure date and we’re doing our best to keep it from happening, but at this point … this may have been the last time that we ever take off at that airport,” Schaller said.


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