Wings & Wheels lands at new runway
Grounded for the last two years, Wings & Wheels will soar at a new location this weekend.
The event moves from the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum and SLOAS Airfield in Howland to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.
Brenda Long, secretary-treasurer for the aviation museum, said the Western Reserve Port Authority contacted them about using the airport and suggested expanding it to a two-day event.
“Oh, boy, it’s been a lot of work, but it’s going quite well,” Long said. “The Trumbull County car clubs always support us. The car people always support us, even if there are other big shows around. When we had it at SLOAS, we would start at 8 (a.m.) and the cars were there at 7 in the morning waiting to get in.”
The new location isn’t the only change for the car and airplane show after the two-year hiatus caused by COVID-19, but it made it possible.
For the first time, Wings & Wheels will feature military aircraft alongside the privately owned planes that fly in for the event.
“I can’t wait for everyone to see the warbirds,” Long said. “They couldn’t fly into SLOAS. The runway wasn’t big enough.”
Visitors will be able to get an up-close look at the C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to the 757th Airlift Squardon at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station along with a C-17 Globemaster III from the Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station; a Fairchild C-123K Provider “Thunderpig” and a Douglas C-47B Skytrain, both from the Air Heritage Museum in Beaver Falls, Pa.; a 1942 Douglas C-53-DO; and a World War II-era B-25J Mitchell from the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton.
“They’re going to be open for tours and people will be able to get inside those planes and see what they flew back in World War II,” Long said.
The Ernie Hall Aviation Museum has a plane of its own that it wants to show off. The museum is named for local aviation pioneer Ernie Hall, and the museum has finished its restoration of a 1947 Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser that belonged to Hall.
Bill Griffin, who started the museum, purchased the plane in 2015 and died in 2019 before the restoration was completed. Work was finished last year, but this will be the first major event locally where people will be able to see the aircraft.
“Restoring this plane was a dream of Bill’s,” Long said. “Ernie’s plane will be open and to have Ernie’s plane restored and flying, I think it’s just great for Trumbull County.”
Keeping the museum open and projects like the airplane restoration on track were difficult during the pandemic with the loss of Wings & Wheels in 2020 and 2021.
“It hurt us just like all the aviation museums in Ohio,” Long said. “We were completely shut down, and Wings & Wheels is our biggest fundraiser every year. It keeps us alive. Thanks to (co-chair) Tom Grohl, who got us a great raffle plane, we were able to make money off that to keep the museum open.
“The reason we really strive to keep this going every year is Bill started this, and we want to keep it going for him.”
Food trucks will be on site, and one of the hangars will be open so people can get out of the sun and have a place to sit and eat.
Long said they had to book hotel rooms as far away as Hubbard for the crews of some of the military craft coming in this weekend because other hotels closer to the site already were full. The bigger planes and expanding to two days could draw more out-of-town visitors who will make a weekend out of it.
“We’re excited it’s back,” said Beth Kotwis Carmichael, director of the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau. “We’ll most likely track the date to see what percentage (of attendees) are coming from outside the area, but either way it’s a win for our area.”
Sponsors for this year’s event are Six Axis Solutions, Maxill, 717 Credit Union, Toyota of Warren, EAA Chapter Ernie Hall 117, Liberty Steel, Lewis Construction, Sunrise Pizza, Web Solutions and Apostolakis Honda.
With the layoff and all of the changes, Long said it’s hard to gauge what participation will be like this weekend.
“In 2019, we had about 900 antique cars and I believe almost 50 planes,” she said. “It’s a whole new place now and there’s more room. I know people are talking about it on our Facebook page, sharing posts and contacting me. With it being two days, maybe it will break up the crowd some. We’re looking forward to finding out.”
If you go …
WHAT: Wings & Wheels
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, 1453 Youngstown Kingsville Road, Vienna
HOW MUCH: $10 at the gate (cash only). For more information, go to erniehallaviation museum.org