By Henry M. Holden
Nearly every year since 1994, the Aviation Hall of Fame & Museum of New Jersey, located at Teterboro Airport, has sponsored the Wings & Wheels Expo. The exception has been 2002 and 2003, when the expo wasn’t held because of security issues and its close proximity to New York City, and 2005, when it was cancelled because of airport construction.
Wings and Wheels Expo 2006 was held on August 19 and 20, under sunny skies with hot and humid weather. It featured interesting World War II aircraft, tracked military land vehicles and modern equipment, from single-engine propeller planes through jets and military planes, helicopters and firefighting equipment. An interesting collection of historical automobiles attracted many attendees. The B-17 Flying Fortress Yankee Lady was the magnet and star of the show, offering unforgettable 45-minute rides to those who were willing to part with $425.
A C-47 based at the Yankee Air Museum in Willow Run, Mich., was due to fly in to the show, but picked up debris while taxiing for takeoff. The aircraft sustained enough damage to prevent it from making the trip.
“Those folks worked day and night for three days, but they just couldn’t get it repaired in time,” said Steve Riethof, executive director of the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum.
Riethof called the American Airpower Museum at Republic Field, in Farmingdale, N.Y., looking for an eleventh hour substitute.
“The folks there were happy to have their C-47 fly into the show,” Riethof said. “They flew their pilot up from southern New Jersey, but again the gremlins ruled the day. On run-up, one of the engines broke a connecting rod and began bleeding oil on the tarmac. In spite of that setback, the show was a success.”
An interesting exhibit featured a T-38 Talon, a supersonic jet trainer, flown by a native of New Jersey, astronaut Scott Kelly of East Orange. Commander Kelly, a graduate of New York Maritime Academy, began his U.S. Navy aviator career in 1989. He served as an F-14 and F/A-18 pilot and has logged more than 3,500 flight hours with more than 250 carrier landings. He’s flown some 30 different aircraft.
Scott Kelly and his twin brother, Mark, have had fully parallel careers, including schooling and U.S. Navy and NASA assignments. Mark Kelly was mission commander for the recent ST-121 shuttle mission, which landed on July 17.
Scott Kelly is slated to be in command of STS 118 in 2007. He, and one of his mission specialists also scheduled for that flight, Rick Mastracchio, were available on Sunday to discuss the mission and answer questions.
Scott Kelly’s NASA career began in 1996, and he made his first space flight in 1999 on the STS-103 mission. His mission was an eight-day flight, during which the crew successfully installed new instruments and upgraded systems on the Hubble Space Telescope, a task requiring three spacewalks.
Kelly and the STS-103 mission crew logged 120 Earth orbits and traveled 3.2 million miles in 191 hours and 11 minutes. After that flight, he served as NASA’s director of operations in Star City, Russia, and served as a backup crewmember for Expedition-5’s trip to the International Space Station. He’s now assigned as the space station’s branch chief in NASA’s Astronaut Office.
This year, Teterboro Airport held its first Airport Community Day during the expo. Thanks to the cooperation of the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum, it will be a regular event at future Wings and Wheels Expos.
Airport Community Day had been planned since early 2001, when oversight of the airport was returned to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. But the tragic events of September 11 stalled implementation until this year. Thanks to the generosity of the Port Authority, Teterboro Airport and more than two dozen corporate sponsors, admission was free to the expo this year.