Airport packs economic punch

By LINDELL JOHN KAY – Rocky Mount Telegram

Business is taking off at the Rocky Mount–Wilson Regional Airport.

Considered the “Jewel of Rocky Mount” by business travelers and pilots, the local airport supports 120 jobs — directly, indirectly or induced — that amount to a total annual payroll of $5.3 million. The airport also lands an annual total of $25.6 million in economic activity for Nash County, according to a 2016 report of North Carolina airports.

“We think it’s actually four times that number,” said Airport Director Dion Viventi, who took the controls at the airport in August.

A Rutgers University graduate, civil engineer, officer in the N.C. Civil Air Patrol, multi-engine commercial pilot, husband and father of four young children, Viventi is turning the airport around with the help of a dedicated crew.

The airport will be including a marketing plan with its Strategic Master Plan later this year.

“The first airport in North Carolina to do that,” Viventi said.

Viventi is planning an airshow for October — “when the weather is still warm, but not so so brutal” — and an open house next spring.

“We want everyone to know what we’ve got going on out here,” Viventi said.

Built in 1969, the 504-acre airport, which once ran commercial flights during the heyday of regulated airlines, is mostly forgotten today, except by the business and industry leaders that use the 7,100-foot runway on a daily basis.

Frequent fliers include Stallings Eagle Transport and Barnhill Contractors. Regular users include CSX, BB&T, Cummins Engines, Keihen Carolina, PNC Bank, Walmart and the state and federal governments.

The airport has 16 aircraft based on the field including jets, helicopters and single-engine and multi-engine planes. The airport averages 82 operations a day with 65 percent being transient general aviation, 29 percent local general aviation, 4 percent air taxi and 2 percent military.

The comfortable and spacious terminal looks more like the lobby of a posh hotel than the sterile environment at most airports. The building also houses a pilot’s briefing room, lounge and crew rest areas. And a car rental kiosk and hotel shuttle service make trips easy.

While the airport doesn’t have a tower, it boasts a very reliable and accurate weather system operated and maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration, including a computer-generated voice message that is broadcast via radio frequency to pilots in the vicinity of an airport or by telephone anywhere. The system also provides up-to-the-minute weather information to pilots and to the FAA for national dissemination via computer.

The airport is manned by air rescue firefighters ready to respond to hazard mitigation, evacuation and possible rescue of passengers and crew of an aircraft involved in an airport ground emergency.

Also based at the airport are the air ambulance services Metro Aviation for Vidant-East Care and Air Methods-Wake Med. The Civil Air Patrol-Tar River Composite Squadron also is based at the airport.

Beside bringing big business to Nash County, the airport also helps in providing search and rescue and disaster relief, cadet programs, orientation flights, aerospace education and STEM resources.

The airport’s operating budget for fiscal year 2016 was a $7 million net position and $6.9 million in total capital assets.

Fairness for Pilots Act introduced

General Aviation News

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has introduced S. 755, the Fairness for Pilots Act, which broadens protections for general aviation pilots provided by Inhofe’s Pilot’s Bill of Rights, which was signed into law in 2012.

Senator James Inhofe

A staunch advocate of GA, Inhofe is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus; and a CFI with more than 11,000 hours.

“The Pilot’s Bill of Rights and the implementation of third class medical reform have been great victories for the general aviation community, addressing the concerns brought to my attention by pilots across the country,” Inhofe said.

But he says there “remains more work to be done.”

“Building on my past efforts, the Fairness for Pilots Act increases due process protections for pilots, ensures greater transparency in dealing with FAA, and reduces the unnecessary bureaucratic barriers preventing pilots from flying,” he said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the general aviation community to get this bill through Congress and enacted into law.”

The senator flying one of his planes.

THE FAIRNESS FOR PILOTS ACT

  • Enhances the due process rights established in the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights by ensuring airman have the right to appeal an FAA decision through a new, merit-based trial in federal court.
  • Increases transparency for pilots subject to an investigation or enforcement action by requiring the FAA to articulate the specific activity under investigation to parties involved in the investigation and provide specific documentation relevant to its investigation.
  • Expedites updates to the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) Improvement Program required in the first Pilot’s Bill of Rights and directs the FAA to include the effective duration of temporary flight restrictions in NOTAMs. This ensures the most relevant and important information reaches the pilot prior to a flight taking place. The legislation also mandates that the FAA certify the accuracy of posted NOTAMs.
  • Ensures the accessibility of flight data, such as air traffic communication tapes and radar information produced by contract towers, and flight service stations and controller training programs, which gives airmen the ability to use this information to defend themselves during an enforcement action proceeding.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President Mark Baker said the association supports the Fairness for Pilots Act. He added he “urges the Senate to approve this important legislation, which will expand on Sen. Inhofe’s original Pilot’s Bill of Rights and provide additional protections so we can continue to enjoy the freedom to fly.”

“We greatly appreciate Senator Inhofe’s efforts on behalf of general aviation pilots with the introduction of the Fairness for Pilots Act,” said Jack J. Pelton, chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association. “Today, more than ever, it’s essential to recognize and preserve the rights of individuals who seek to pursue the freedom of flight. This legislation is an excellent step in that direction”

“We commend Senator Inhofe for advancing this important legislation,” said Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association. “The reforms contained in the bill will promote fairness, while reducing costs and helping preserve and foster general aviation in America. The Senator has long been a true champion for the industry, and we applaud his continuing work to support its priorities.”

Groundbreaking female pilot from Guilford died in war

By Harry Thetford Special to News & Record

Mary Webb Nicholson was 22 when she took her first flight in 1927.

She was the first woman in North Carolina to hold a pilot’s license and to receive both her commercial and transport licenses.

A new historical marker along Friendly Avenue, in the area across from the Quaker Village Chick-fil-A, is dedicated to Nicholson, who is buried nearby in New Garden Friends Cemetery.

 Nicholson was one of two daughters born to a Walker Avenue Quaker family — there were four Nicholson sons. Her banker father was Francis, her mother was Frances, a school teacher at Curry School. After Pomona High School, Nicholson attended Woman’s College (UNC-Greensboro) and Guilford College, majoring in music.

I wonder if Nicholson was among the 25,000 who celebrated Charles Lindbergh’s fly-in of Oct. 27, 1927. She may have watched the Spirit of St. Louis touch down at Greensboro’s relatively new Lindley Field.

She probably couldn’t have made it over to Woman’s College in time to catch his convertible-ride through the campus — but it’s quite possible she was among the 20,000 who heard America’s most famous celebrity speak at War Memorial Stadium.

How could anyone afford flying lessons during the Great Depression?

While the Nicholson family took in renters, their daughter made parachute jumps to advertise an Ohio Flying Service.

Nicholson logged over 600 flight hours, many of which involved air shows and barnstorming all over the south. She set an altitude record for North Carolina in 1931 by flying a 45-horsepower Curtiss-Wright Junior to 15,200 feet.

Nicholson financed her flying escapades with a series of day jobs: giving flying lessons; bookkeeping at Sternberger Hospital; business manager at Hickory’s Memorial Hospital; and airport promotional work for the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.

She was married briefly to a medical doctor but asked for a divorce and took back her maiden name.

She became a charter member of the 99s, an organization of female pilots formed to promote advancement of aviation. Of the 117 licensed women pilots in the U.S., 99 of them joined the new group, headed by Amelia Earhart.

Earhart appointed Nicholson as governor of the Southeastern area. Nicholson moved to New York City in 1937, where she took a job as personal secretary for Jacqueline Cochran — a wealthy and well-connected aviatrix almost as famous as Earhart. Not surprisingly, Nicholson then became governor of the 99s’ New York-New Jersey Chapter.

Cochran had the ear of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who shared the 99s’ vision that women could serve as ferry pilots — freeing up male pilots for combat duty. Although WASPs (Woman Airforce Service Pilots) would eventually ferry thousands of U.S. military aircraft from factory to base, Gen. Henry H. “Hap” Arnold initially vetoed the concept.

Meanwhile, Cochran learned that Britain’s Royal Air Force was already using women ferry pilots in their Air Transport Auxiliary.

“The ATA had 1,153 men ferry pilots — all rejected by other services, too old, surplus, or otherwise unfit; and 168 women ferry pilots — young, sound of mind, wind and limb,” according to afleetingpeace.org.

Cochran’s personal secretary did most of the logistics as 25 U.S. women pilots were organized and sent to England. Nicholson herself went over with the last group.

By late 1942, Nicholson was ferrying RAF aircraft all over the country from her base at Maidenhead, near Berkshire.

She flew without benefit of radio or maps, lest they fall into enemy hands if she were shot down.

Ferrying new aircraft directly from the factory came with considerable risk. For 2nd Officer Nicholson, insufficient lubrication caused her Miles Master engine to fail on May 22, 1943. Flying too low to jump, she attempted to land in an open field. She struck a stone building just short of the field and died in the flaming crash. She was the only American in the ATA-RAF to lose her life during the war.

Frances Nicholson wrote a letter to her daughter on May 11, but it arrived too late. “We have taken in two Army families and are enjoying having other soldiers into our home for meals — they sure do like fried chicken.”

The Nicholsons were members of Asheboro Street Friends Meeting. Their daughter’s tomb is in New Garden Friends Cemetery — not far from the burial sites of the Quaker family of Knights, who lost four family members when a U.S. Navy ferry pilot crashed into their home near Guilford College during World War II.

Legislation could help fund RDU runway, statewide airport projects

Raleigh-Durham International Airport officials say a bill filed at the N.C. General Assembly could help pay for a $305 million project to rebuild its longest runway, which is needed to continue to accommodate and attract new international flights.

Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican from Brunswick County and chair of the Senate Rules Committee, filed Senate Bill 351 that would allocate $100 million for runway improvements at RDU over two years, starting July 1.

The money would come from a short-term motor vehicle lease and rental tax, which generates about $65 million per year. That money currently goes into the general fund, but Rabon’s bill would instead put it into the dwindling Highway Fund, he said.

“The money for these short-term leases – it’s really money that is generated by airports and by transportation, and it should go back in transportation,” he said. “I think it would just do a world of good.”

Rabon said he initially included RDU in the bill because he knew it “desperately” needs a longer runway to accommodate international flights, and he wanted to find a way to facilitate that.

But he said he has some changes he hopes to make to the bill later this session to make it an ongoing source of revenue for projects needed at airports statewide, “so the whole state benefits not just one individual.”

“Airports really, really have a huge return on investment as far as transportation and state dollars that we put in,” Rabon said.

The state’s Highway Fund has provided money to airports since 2006 but only for general aviation airports. All publicly-owned airports have been eligible to receive capital project funding from the state’s Highway Trust Fund since 2015.

Under existing state funding sources, RDU gets $500,000 per year, said Michael Landguth, the airport’s president and CEO. “Half a million dollars doesn’t go very far,” he said.

Kristie VanAuken, RDU’s vice president of communications and community affairs, said Rabon’s bill is a step in the right direction, particularly, she said, since “airport funding is broken at the federal level.”

“We don’t feel tremendously optimistic about new tools at the federal level at this point,” she said. “But we’re not going to quit trying.”

Talks about airport funding

State funding is just one element needed for RDU to rebuild its runway. RDU is working on a funding model that officials hope to release this summer that would lay out how the runway would be paid for. This could include state or federal funding or airport revenues, such as parking and landing fees.

RDU officials have recently been in talks with some of the state’s congressional representatives about receiving more federal money. Staff said for every dollar the airport has paid into the Federal Airport Improvement Program, it has gotten back about 3.7 cents. That’s because the $20 billion needed by U.S. airports each year is significantly more than the funding available through federal programs, according to a report by Airports Council International – North America, an association representing airport owners and operators.

Also, under federal rules, RDU must forgo 75 percent of the airport improvement program money it is entitled to because it collects a $4.50 facility charge from every passenger who boards a plane there. Airport officials nationwide are urging Congress to repeal that rule as well as lift the $4.50 cap on passenger facility charges, which haven’t been raised since 2000.

“As we start to look at the taxes the citizens of this region are paying into the Federal Airport Improvement Program versus what we are getting back, I don’t believe that it’s fair and equitable,” Landguth said. “When we are coming forward with a program like a runway, it should be a number one program that should be funded appropriately … We’ve paid into the system for years, and it’s time to get our fair funding back.”

RDU’s runway will need to be rebuilt in the next few years before it reaches the end of its useful life. It will be built parallel to the existing 10,000-foot runway which is on the western side of the airport. There is no set timeline for when construction will begin or how long it will take, at least until RDU receives approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to RDU staff.

If the useful life of the runway were to end before a new one is built, the airport would have only one commercial runway, and at 7,500 feet, it isn’t long enough to accommodate trans-Atlantic or trans-continental flights. A new runway also would be needed if the airport hopes to attract a flight to China.

“We can’t wait to get started on this because the runway life is short,” VanAuken said. “We simply can’t wait. We have to get moving.”

Other airports

While RDU’s runway may be the most pressing aviation project across the state, some of the more than 70 other publicly-owned airports in North Carolina also could benefit from a source of funding for capital projects.

In the last seven years, Triangle North Executive Airport in Louisburg has grown from having 80 aircraft based there to 130, said Steve Merritt, airport manager. The airport is one of several in the area, including Raleigh Executive Jetport in Sanford and Johnston County Airport, that provide relief to RDU.

“They’re growing, and we’re growing,” Merritt said. “We are only restricted by the pot of money we can get.”

Triangle North Executive Airport recently completed a $2 million project to increase capacity for more corporate customers. There also are plans to extend the runway from 5,500 to 6,500 feet and strengthen it to accommodate heavier jets with an anticipated $11 million state grant. The grant also would help make more land available for infrastructure.

“If there is a way to get more money for the airport system, I would absolutely be in favor of that,” Merritt said. “I don’t think we could have too much money. The needs are almost limitless.”

Job – Salisbury, NC

A&P – Salisbury, NC (AV)

Strom Aviation •
Salisbury, North Carolina, USA

Position Type: Contractor

Job Description:
Type of aircraft: General aviation
Longevity: 4+ months
Type of work environment: Refinishing

Summary
  • The ideal candidate must be able to perform all phases of the repair/modification process from estimating the requirements in terms of time and material through the completion of an airworthy solution using current manufacturer’s Maintenance Manuals or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness
Job Requirements:

Tools required: YES
Years’ experience: 5+

License requirements: A&P required, IA preferred
Specific aircraft experience required: General Aviation aircraft – Cessna 150’s- 172s-182’s etc, Piper Cherokees, Beechcraft Bonanzas, and other small GA aircraft
Other

  • The ideal candidate must be able to perform all phases of the repair/modification process from estimating the requirements in terms of time and material through the completion of an airworthy solution using current manufacturer’s Maintenance Manuals or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness.
Salary Range: Neg-Neg
Relocation: Call for details
Travel: Call for details
Job Ident #: 2130024397
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Private planes may not be taxed under Trump’s plan

McClatchy

President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said Tuesday that the administration’s proposal to modernize U.S. air traffic control “probably” would not include a tax on general aviation or business aircraft.

“We’re probably not even going to tax general aviation,” Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, told a group of corporate executives at the White House. “There’s enough money in the aviation tax rate now.”

That could help sell the Trump proposal to opponents, including general aviation manufacturers and lawmakers from rural states.

Major airlines have been pushing to transfer control of the country’s airspace from the Federal Aviation Administration to a private, nonprofit board governed by the airlines.

General aviation manufacturers have opposed the plan because of concerns about how the fee structure might affect their business, and some members of Congress oppose it because it would circumvent the standard legislative process.

Cohn said current aviation taxes were enough to support the proposed changes, which would enable a faster conversion of air traffic control from land-based radar to more a more modern GPS system.

Fixing U.S. airspace was among the administration’s top infrastructure priorities, Cohn said. He noted that other countries had already updated their systems.

“A country that has Silicon Valley and all of the technology entrepreneurs we have, and we’re playing catch-up,” he said. “That’s embarrassing for us.”

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, tried to move legislation early last year to make the changes to U.S. airspace, but couldn’t get it to the House floor. Trump revived the proposal in his budget plan last month.

Congress must reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of September, and the White House proposal could be a sticking point.

Lawmakers from general aviation manufacturing states, including Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, oppose removing air traffic control from the FAA. So do members of the House Appropriations Committee, including Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., whose rural district includes numerous general aviation airports.

Moran said his concerns about the impact to general aviation and small airports remained even if there was a promise of no tax increase.

“The question becomes if it’s privatized and made up of a board of people who are generally associated with the airlines, who is there to prevent an increase in cost to general aviation?” Moran said.

Moran warned that the proposal would take away authority from Congress and jeopardize services for small airports.

“If you have a private board that is making decisions,” he said, “there still is no voice for small town airports and Congress has little or no ability to alter those decisions.”

Selena Shilad, executive director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America, which opposes the change, expressed similar concerns.

“All of these decisions would be made according to what is in the private interests of members of the board, as opposed to Congress, which has direct accountability to public citizens and communities and businesses of all sizes,” she said in a statement.

Most major airlines support the proposal. So does the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

“This is a project that is so interesting and enticing,” Cohn said. “the unions support doing it.”

He enlisted the help of the executives gathered at the White House, many of whom fly in corporate jets, to bring the general aviation community on board. He asked House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who was in the room Tuesday, to convince reluctant lawmakers.

“Everyone else in the system is going to be happy with this,” Cohn said.

DEMONSTRATING COMPLIANCE WITH BASICMED

AOPA Pilot Protection – Jared Allen

As the May 1 effective date for the FAA’s BasicMed regulations (14 CFR Part 68) approaches, it is a good time to review the eligibility requirements for BasicMed that require certain documentation to demonstrate compliance. Pilots must carry some of these documents while operating under the new rules, while others are required to be kept with the pilot’s logbook or in an electronic format.

 To operate under BasicMed, a pilot must meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.23(c)(3) (as amended in the final rule), one of which is that the pilot possess a valid U.S. driver’s license and complies with all medical requirements or restrictions associated with that license. In the final rule, the FAA interpreted “valid driver’s license” to mean “a current and valid U.S. driver’s license” that is issued by a state, territory, or possession of the United States. Pilots are required to have the driver’s license in their personal possession when operating under BasicMed.

Another eligibility requirement set forth in amended 14 CFR 61.23 requires the pilot to have held a regular or special issuance medical any time on or after July 15, 2006. Pilots who meet this requirement by way of a medical certificate1 that is now lapsed or expired will not be required to carry or possess the expired medical certificate while operating under BasicMed. Furthermore, the new rules do not require the expired medical certificate to be retained with the pilot’s logbook. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to retain the expired medical for your own records.

The first of two documents that must be stored electronically or with the logbook of pilots qualified to fly under BasicMed is the Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist, which is completed by the airman and the state-licensed physician who conducts the examination. Part 68 requires that prior to operating under BasicMed, and then at least every 48 months, the pilot receive a medical examination from a state-licensed physician in accordance with a checklist that will be made available by the FAA.
Under the federal law implemented by these new rules, the checklist is required to contain many of the same questions as the current application for an airman medical certificate. However, once the checklist is completed it is not required to be sent to the FAA or be carried with the pilot. Rather, it must be retained with the pilot’s logbook or in any electronic format, as long as it can be made available upon FAA request.

The same requirements also apply to the second document, known as a “certificate of completion” for the online medical education course that pilots must complete prior to operating under BasicMed, and then at least every 24 calendar months. The online medical education course educates pilots on issues such as medical self-assessments, medication, and fitness to fly. Once the course is completed, the pilot will provide limited information that will be sent to the FAA such as the name, address, and phone number of the airman and the physician who conducted the medical examination, state medical license number, and date of exam. Airmen also will provide certifications as to their fitness to fly, and an authorization for a National Driver Register check.

Once the medical education course is completed, the pilot will be provided with a certificate of completion in a PDF, which must then be printed and kept with the pilot’s logbook or stored in an electronic format, and made available upon FAA request. AOPA is currently working with the FAA to obtain approval for its online medical education course.

BasicMed regulations do not change the existing requirements of 14 CFR 61.3, which mandate that airmen have their pilot certificate and appropriate photo identification in their physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of their certificate. The FAA has noted that an official passport, which some pilots use to comply with the regulation’s photo identification requirement, will not satisfy the BasicMed requirement to carry a valid U.S. driver’s license, as discussed above.

To review all of the requirements of BasicMed, pilots are encouraged to review the final rule as well as Advisory Circular AC 68-1, Alternative Pilot Physical Examination and Education Requirements. Additional resources, including a comprehensive FAQ, are available at AOPA’s “Fit to Fly” resources page.

1 The pilot’s most recent medical certificate can be a regular or special issuance medical certificate and can be expired, but it must not have been suspended or revoked, or in the case of an authorization for special issuance, it must not have been withdrawn.  Likewise, the pilot’s most recent medical application must not have been completed and then withdrawn or denied.

 

Crowds fill N.C. Transportation Museum for aviation day

Josh Bergeron – Salisbury Post

Maleek Littlejohn has dreams of flying.

Littlejohn, a 10-year-old ball of energy, couldn’t contain his excitement on Saturday as he was surrounded by planes, flight simulators and other aviation activities. Inside of the N.C. Transportation Museum, Littlejohn bounded from table to table to see what each had to offer.

The N.C. Transportation Museum is best known for its displays of trains, but on Saturday the museum showed off aviation-related displays.

Littlejohn said he wants to be a pilot when he grows up. In particular, he’s got his sights set on becoming a military pilot who flies fighter jets. His reasoning is simple.

“They’re cool and they’ve got guns on them,” Littlejohn said.

He said flight simulators were his favorite display. Littlejohn said he also liked remote controlled airplanes being flown inside of the N.C. Transportation Museum’s backshop. Later, he became engrossed in an activity that challenged museum visitors to build a device that could float between two red lines in a wind tunnel.

Littlejohn and his family members were just a few of the many people who filed into the N.C. Transportation Museum’s aviation-focused event — Learning to Fly. One day earlier, more than 900 children and teachers filed through the museum to get a sneak peak at aviation day exhibits.

A replica Wright Flyer was among the many displays. Elizabeth Duncan, dressed as aviator Amelia Earhart, and Theresa Pierce was dressed as Katharine Wright, a high school teacher and sister of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright. In their costumes, Duncan and Pierce spoke with museum visitors near the Wright Flyer. WWII aviation uniforms were also on display. Peter Meyer donned the 1940s-era uniforms and told stories about his father, a pilot during WWII. Wake Forest Baptist Health AirCare landed a helicopter at the museum for visitors to look at.

A Piedmont Airlines plane, known as the Potomac Pacemaker, was the largest single item on display. For the past several years, volunteers have worked carefully to assemble and restore the aircraft, which was manufactured in 1942, retired in 1965, obtained in 1978 by the Museum of Life and Science in Durham and purchased in 2004 by the N.C. Transportation Museum.

Walt Ryerson served in the Navy as an aircraft electrician and also flew airplanes professionally. On Saturday, Ryerson was among a number of volunteers working to restore the plane as museum visitors passed by. Twice per month, volunteers gather to restore the aircraft.

Ryerson said the plane won’t ever fly again, but the goal is to restore both the interior and exterior to the glory of its flying days.

“We want to get to the point where a mechanic who comes in here and is retired says ‘OK, that looks like it should,” Ryerson said.

He said working to restore the plane is fun and compared it to tinkering with classic cars.

“Some people have their fun working on a hot rod, but I get mine working on an airplane,” he said.

For others who volunteer to restore the plane, it’s a learning experience.

High school sophomore Delaina Yancey, from Cornelius, says she wants to be a commercial pilot for Emirates — an airline company based in Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates. Aviation is her happy place, Yancey said.

“When I was 14, I went up in the air and just thought, ‘this is it. This is where I want to be,’” Yancey said.

Working nearby was Anthony Eugene Paupaw, a 58-year-old who is scheduled to graduate from Guilford Technical Community College this year. For years, Paupaw was a truck driver. When he was laid off in 2013, he decided to go back to school. Helping assemble the plane provides real-world experience, he said.

Once complete, Kevin Cherry, Deputy Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said the Potomac Pacemaker will be a representation of a historically significant airplane.

“It’s one of the most significant artifacts we have here because it is a signature piece of the Piedmont Airlines story,” Cherry said. “Piedmont Airlines was not just for North Carolina but the whole country, truly significant for the development of commercial air. Because of the innovation of Piedmont Airlines, regular people could fly.”

North Carolina Transportation Museum Director Kelly Alexander said the Potomac Pacemaker eventually will be part of its own permanent exhibit about the importance of flight.

The museum may be known for its trains, but it’s not the only kind of transportation Alexander said she hopes visitors can experience.

“Everybody knows us for trains, but we want people to be able to experience all kinds of inland transportation here,” she said.