Archives for August 2010

History Takes Flight in Urbana, Ohio

Think “museum” and you may picture exhibits frozen in time. Say, a prehistoric winged bug preserved in amber. Captivated by the eerie quiet of its stillness, you imagine how it flew.

But two museums at Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio’s municipal airport, rev your imagination. They house vintage aircraft that can still take to the air and others that are being restored to fly again—to recall visions of historic exploits.

Restoration of B-17G Champaign Lady in Urbana, Ohio

Many volunteers work tirelessly at Grimes Field to return the Champaign Lady B-17 to the skies. The project will soon move to the Champaign Aviation Museum.

The Grimes Flying Lab Foundation museum features the restored Flying Lab, a modified Beech 18 that was used to test aircraft lighting developed and produced in Urbana by Grimes Manufacturing (now Honeywell Aerospace). The museum preserves the history of the company, which was founded by Warren G. Grimes. This summer Mr. Grimes was posthumously inducted  into the Aviation Hall of Fame, as the father of aircraft lighting and inventor of aircraft navigational instruments. Grimes Field, Mr. Grimes’ gift to the city of Urbana, continues as a living legacy, and the Grimes Flying Lab Foundation museum is a part of the National Aviation Heritage Area, which was created to recognize the Dayton region’s leadership in American aviation history.

A more recent addition to the airport, the Champaign Aviation Museum primarily houses World War II aircraft as well as the world’s only surviving flyable Pitcairn Autogiro, a peculiar cross between airplane and helicopter from the ‘20s.

A B-17G restoration project started five and a half years ago in a hangar on the south end of the airport will be moved into the aviation museum by the end of October. Local business leader and community benefactor Jerry Shiffer initiated the Champaign Lady B-17 project before his passing. His family continues the project with a legion of volunteers, and they built the museum as a tribute to veterans.

With this heightened local interest in aviation history, Grimes Field has become a magnet for special events of flight.  None stands out more than this April’s fly-in by one of the largest, if not the largest, gatherings of B-25s since World War II. Thousands flocked to Urbana to witness the war birds, which dramatically flew into  Grimes Field in support of the Doolittle Raiders’ 68th reunion at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Don’t miss the next big event at Grimes Field: the Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in, or MERFI, which will bring 350 experimental aircraft, educational programs and displays—along with a chance to see the Grimes Flying Lab,  the Champaign Aviation Museum and the B-17 project—on September 11 and 12.

More on this later…..

Here’s Your Chance to be a Trailblazer

Like bicycling?

Like bike trails?

Like to see more of them?

Simon Kenton Pathfinders Bike Ride

Bicyclists enjoy scenic Champaign County.

If so, you’ll like riding in the Simon Kenton Pathfinders’ 11th annual bike ride—the Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride—on Sunday, September 12, starting from the Urbana Station Depot, 644 Miami St., Urbana, Ohio.

Print out the registration form at the Simon Kenton Pathfinders’ website–and register now!

All proceeds from the ride will support maintenance of the Simon Kenton Trail and its planned extension north from the Depot to Urbana’s northern city limit near Grimes Field airport. Ultimately, the trail will link Urbana with West Liberty and Bellefontaine!

The more people pedaling and supporting the cause, the sooner we’ll all get there. (It’s events like this and the foresight and perseverance of Pathfinder-in-Chief Nancy Lokai-Baldwin and her band of loyal Pathfinders that made Champaign County an important part of Ohio’s network of bike trails.

The Ruth I. Bentley Memorial Ride offers you a choice of three routes to ride at your own pace:

  • ŸA family-friendly 15-mile ride entirely on the Simon Kenton Trail
  • ŸA metric half century ride (that’s 31 miles) on Champaign County’s scenic country roads
  • A metric century ride (62 miles), also on country roads

I look forward to seeing you there! I plan to be serving up bananas, sport drinks, water and other aid at a support station.

Like to Get Involved?

Cleaning up the Simon Kenton Trail

Pathfinder volunteers maintain the trail.

Check out the SKP website for other ways you can support the trail … becoming a Pathfinder member, helping with trail maintenance, volunteering at events, making a tax-deductible contribution.

We meet at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the Depot Coffee House, 644 Miami St., Urbana, Ohio. So, please stop by and join us!

Happy Trails to You!

Simon Kenton Trail, Urbana, Ohio

The Simon Kenton Trail meanders through Melvin Miller Park.

Just a reminder from my last post … please leave a comment about how and where you most like to exercise in Champaign County, Ohio.

In the meantime, I’ll tell you my favorite: the Simon Kenton Trail (SKT) bike path.

It’s an 11-mile paved trail for bicyclists, walkers, inline skaters and runners that links some of Urbana’s finest fitness and community assets. It starts (or ends, depending on where you start) at the Champaign Family YMCA, passes the Urbana City Schools’ track and athletic fields, loops around Melvin Miller Park, runs through Urbana to the beautifully restored Urbana Station Depot (home of the Depot Coffee House), continues past Urbana University, then heads out of town right by Cedar Bog Nature Preserve. In Clark County it merges with the Little Miami Scenic Trail and moves on to Cincinnati.

Basically, it’s a long, continuous playground—a big excuse for friends and families to get out and exercise.

Depending on your current fitness level, you can take on any amount of the trail you wish – and measure your progress as you gain distance and discover new parts of the path.

I like to bicycle, but my favorite way to break a sweat is running. Of course, I can do that anywhere, but I feel most at ease on the trail, free of motorized traffic (but please look both ways at the road crossings).

Did you know? Plans are underway to extend the Simon Kenton Trail further – north from the Depot up to Urbana’s northern city limit by Grimes Field airport.

Next up on Champaign Uncorked! find out how you can support the trail extension on September 12, as you and other bicyclists enjoy the SKT and Champaign County’s scenic country roads. And find out how you can support the trail as a member of the all-volunteer organization that maintains the SKT.

Running and Walking out of Excuses

Running in the BOSS

At today’s BOSS (Big Orange Shoe Shop) Summer Run in West Liberty, Ohio, I felt a bit sluggish (65:10.5 in the 10K). I was running a pint low; I donated blood Friday. (And thank you, Dairy Corner, for the “give a pint, get a pint” offer! I chose praline pecan.)

But no more excuses about my running. After all, when it comes to exercise, excuses are too easy to come by. Even so, about 275 people crossed the finish line at the BOSS—nearly all of them in front of me.

Another group didn’t make excuses this morning. They gathered at the Champaign Family YMCA to walk a mile together. It was the final mile of the Champaign County Marathon, a program sponsored by Activate Champaign County to encourage people to make exercise a part of their routine – and walk at least marathon distance, 26.2 miles, over the past eight weeks.

After the BOSS run with fellow Champaign Countians and back-of-the-packers Steve Henderson, his son-in-law Ben Dunham and Ben's son Riley.

Had I picked up my 10K pace a bit—like Josiah Bragg’s winning time of 36:39.3—I could have made it back to Urbana in time to join them. But since I only run like that in my dreams, here’s a tardy congratulations and keep it up!

In upcoming posts I plan to feature all of the great excuses we have in Champaign County to exercise—rather than avoid it. I welcome your suggestions. Please leave a comment: where and how do you like to exercise in Champaign County?

A Toast to Life in Champaign County, Ohio

You’re just in time for the opening of my newest venture in writing. Welcome to Champaign Uncorked! Here I’ll share with you my appreciation for small town living—specifically in the place I call home … Urbana, Ohio, in verdant Champaign County.

It’s been home since 1979 when I turned from Hoosier to Buckeye upon graduation from Franklin College of Indiana. Answering an ad in Editor & Publisher, I ventured to a place I’d never heard of (though I grew up a short jaunt from Urbana, Indiana—a crossroads with a corny ring to it, and little else).

In Urbana, Ohio, I began my career as general assignment reporter and agriculture editor at the Urbana Daily Citizen—and eventually became managing editor (for more, see About Me). At 22 I saw Urbana as a launch pad.

Then I met a lovely young lady from Urbana, Kay Markley, and fell in love. Now, happily, she’s my wife of 27 years. Our older son, Andy, a senior field biology major at Ohio Northern University, is just a year from embarking on his own career in zoos or wildlife conservation. And our younger son, Alex, is a senior at Urbana High School. He plans to study graphic design in college (by the way, he created the header for this blog).

Back to Kay: she’s the one who nudged me with her usual loving, and relentless, encouragement to advance into the brave new world of social media. With this blog, I’m getting there.

Here, I’ll put my background as journalist to work to spotlight the people, places, businesses, organizations and events of this great community that’s become my landing.

And since this is my blog and I’ll self-promote if I want to, I’ll occasionally aim the spotlight on clients of my freelance marketing and public relations copywriting business, Schenkel Communicationswhen good writing matters.

Enough promotion. It’s time to celebrate!

Did you know? Champaign County and Urbana, Ohio, inspired the naming of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.