Madison Municipal Airport’s 20th Annual Madison Air Show promises to be bigger than ever — due in large part to an appearance by the biggest airplane to ever use the local field — when the facility opens its gates to the public on Saturday, Sept. 25.
From static displays of planes and helicopters — rare opportunities to see those aircraft up close and in person — to rides and discovery flights — the chance to actually experience flying out of the local airport and possibly even get some stick time — there will be numerous opportunities to enjoy much of what local aviation has to offer.
Although an exact rundown of what aircraft will fly in for the show won’t be known until the day of the event, Airport Manager Brent Spry said aircraft will likely line the field and the event already promises to be a really big deal thanks to an appearance by a vintage war machine that’s the largest plane to ever use the local strip in its 50-plus year history.
Spry said the highlight of the show promises to be an appearance by the “Yankee Lady,” a World War II-era Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress owned and flown by the Yankee Air Museum out of Belleville, Michigan.
Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces on July 16, 1945 — just weeks after Germany surrendered and days before Japan fell — Yankee Lady is one of 12,731 Flying Fortresses built during WWII. Today, only nine are reported to be airworthy and Yankee Lady is one of only three that still offer rides.
“I’ve been trying to get one of the big bombers for our air show for years,” said Spry, who saw a record crowd turnout last year when a Boeing B-25J medium range bomber and Grumman TBM torpedo bomber both attended.
This year’s star attraction — the long distance, high altitude, heavy payload B-17 Yankee Lady bomber — will dwarf those planes and push the limits of what Madison’s 5,000-yard runway can handle at 33,000 pounds when empty and up to 64,500 pounds fully loaded including as much as 10,000 pounds of bombs to go with a dozen .50-caliber Browning M2 machine guns and ammunition.
But like her post-war years with the Air Force, Yankee Lady will be unarmed for the trip to Madison and that’s a good thing for local aviation fans because the museum will sell seats for planes rides on Friday and Saturday at a cost of $495 for the 25-minute flight and 35-minute experience. While on the ground, the flying museum will be open for self-guided ground experience tours at a cost of $8 for adults age 15 and older and $3 for children age 6 to 15 with all others free.
“It’s expensive but it’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” Spry said, noting he’s been trying to get a Flying Fortress to the Madison air show for years.
Considering the 19-foot tall, 74-foot long plane with a 103-foot wingspan sucks down about 50 gallons of fuel per hour for each of its 1,200 horsepower engines, the Yankee Lady is neither cheap to fly or maintain.
The plane cost the museum $250,000 when purchased in 1986 and is now in its 26th season of operation while continually receiving upgrades and ongoing restorative work costing thousands of dollars.
“People have come out in droves to see our B-17 this year,” said Kevin Walsh, president and CEO of Yankee Air Museum. “Many have checked ‘flying on a B-17’ off their bucket list, too. It’s an incredible experience, one that every aviation enthusiast should have ... Everyone who comes off that plane has a memory that lasts a lifetime.”
Flights on the day of the air show are already sold out but there are a few seats left on flights the crew will make Friday, after arriving in Madison at about noon. For booking information, visit: www.yankeeairmuseum.org/fly/.
Meanwhile, the Madison Air Show is free but a donation — as little or as much as you want to give — is asked at the gate for entry. Everyone will receive a raffle ticket at the gate for a chance to win one of many prizes. The airport is located at 3919 West IMS Lane on Madison’s hilltop. Gates open at 10 a.m., opening ceremonies are at 1 p.m. and the actual air show runs from 1:15 p.m. to about 4 p.m.
Food vendors will be on site and rides and discovery flights will be available for a fee.
It is suggested that spectators bring sunscreen, something for shade, a lawn chair or blanket and cash although ATMs will be provided with a charge. There is limited space for parking so it is also suggested that spectators carpool.
No coolers will be allowed on airport grounds and no alcohol and no smoking — including E-cigarettes and/or vaping — is allowed on airport grounds.
With a $50,000 offer on the table from Randy and Barbara Romans to help pay for hard surfacing a mile of Bishop Hill Road between Bear Bridge and Joyce Cemetery, Jefferson County Commissioners held firm Thursday by following the county scoring system for gravel road conversion.
“I’m willing to pay for half; that’s how bad we need it done,” Randy Romans said, estimating the one-mile stretch would cost about $100,000.
Romans not only lives at the site but also operates a business out of the location — one that involves transporting equipment through muddy conditions on the gravel road during wet weather. He said he’s been “dealing with that gravel road ever since I was a kid as long as I can remember, and now I can afford to help pave part of that road.”
The Romans had previously attended two Commissioners meetings to discuss Bishop Hill Road’s status on the gravel road conversion chart. Bishop Hill ranks eighth on the 2021 chart with Poplar Ridge Road in the northwestern part of Shelby Township ranked first. After Romans questioned the scoring of Bishop Hill Road, county highway superintendent Bobby Phillips agreed to review the matter and found calculations were “correct on the high score” but “there were some mistakes and numbers that I can give you that follow some interpretations, but at best they move you up one to two positions.”
Bishop Hill scored 333.45 points on the 2021 conversion chart , far below the 950 scored by Poplar Ridge Road. Phillips noted the gravel road conversion program was established to prioritize the “best road and the best candidate for everybody in Jefferson County.”
The Commissioners said it’s ultimately not a question of if Bishop Hill will be paved, but a matter of when based on priority.
“I remember when I was growing up, my dad would say, ‘No doesn’t always mean no, it means not yet,’ ” Commissioner Ron Lee said. “So I need to do a little thought.”
Commissioner Bobby Little agreed, noting: “We need more discussion. I hate to do a piece (of the road), and not do the whole thing.”
Bishop Hill Road is 3-miles long and the county has estimated it could cost $290,000 for hard surfacing.
Kay Gross, of Brooksburg, listened to the discussion with interest.
“I own a property and a home at the other end of that road, and I was watching you all to see what you would do because it’s not fair,” she said. “I want to thank you guys for being fair because I fought for five years for the road I’m now getting fixed. I thank you for your honesty and your fairness.”
Gross said she educated herself on the process, and with the gravel road conversion there is a process for hard surfacing more county roads.
“We finally have a program in place and there is hope, and I am proof of that hope,” Gross said. “I am very thankful that program is out there now, or the gravel roads would still be by the wayside. We didn’t have a program before, but we have one now.”
Later in the meeting, efforts to convert gravel roads to hard surface were also questioned by Jean and Danny Padgett. “Danny and I live on East Geyman Hill Road, and we had a perfectly good blacktopped road, and two weeks ago Friday, the county came along and put a thin layer of tar, and then put gravel on top of that, so now we have a gravel road instead of blacktop,” said Jean Padgett. “Why did they do that to a blacktop road?”
County Commissioner David Bramer explained that the work done was a chipseal, which he said is “maintenance of the blacktop road so it lasts longer so we don’t have come back and add blacktop.”
Phillips explained that chipseal is still a hard surface, but the process provides additional wearing surface to extend the life of the pavement.
“The oil actually preserves it and fills the cracks so that it will last longer,” Phillips said, noting the process extends the life of the road by five to eight years.
Jean Padgett asked when the loose part of the chipseal will be gone. Phillips said “it’s usually gone by winter” but the highway department can alleviate that by sweeping the roadway.
Jefferson County officials heard pleas to strengthen staffing at the Jefferson County Animal Shelter when members of the group’s advisory board voiced concerns raised at their meeting last week.
Hannah Fagen, newly appointed last week to the County Animal Advisory Board, emphasized to County Council the need for changes in the way the animal shelter is staffed and the funds required to do that while Commissioner Bobby Little, also a member of the animal shelter board, outlined what is currently being done and needed to address concerns about animal care to his fellow Commissioners.
Little noted that “new kennels are in the process of being ordered, which we desperately need” and that he has talked with Jan Davis, warden at the Madison Correctional Facility, who is willing to house dogs from the animal shelter at the local Corrections unit for a week while the animal shelter is “scrubbed from top to bottom” to provide a thorough cleaning.
Meanwhile, the Commissioners on Wednesday posted on the Jefferson County Government website that the county is seeking an interim director for the vacancy created when shelter manager Jenny Slover went on short-term disability.
Little said adoptions are taking place with three kittens and one dog adopted last weekend and “appointments are being kept and phone calls are being answered.”
Little said the City of Madison’s animal control officer, Janet Daugherty, is reporting to the animal shelter each morning to give directions to the part-time staff while Jefferson County’s animal control officer, Paul Geyman, is answering calls in the county and city to share more of the load
“We’re not 100% like we were, but I feel a lot better than I did two weeks ago. Animals are being taken care of,” Little said. “We’re getting there” but it’s going to take some time.
“We need funds to get the right people in there,” Fagen told the County Council.
Fagen also proposed that the pay structure for the director be increased from the current $35,000 to a range more like $39,000.
“The position needs a higher wage so we can get the right person for the job,” she said, noting it’s a 24/7 job that’s 365 days a year. “They will be on-call to make hard decisions.”
She added that the manager also needs to be a person who is “business-minded, able to run social media, answer email and manage a staff.
“It’s important we have the right person,” she said, noting the job currently “requires too much for too little.”
In addition to better pay for the director, Fagen proposed the staff include up to four people to handle duties in taking care of the animals and the building, so they aren’t depending on volunteers for those duties. She said volunteers are valuable to the animal shelter, but “we can’t rely on volunteers to run shelter,” noting they could be utilized more for “socializing the animals so that they can be adopted out.”
Although no decisions were made on staffing, Council members expressed support for finding solutions for the animal shelter’s problems.
“Your passion shows,” said council president Pam Crozier, noting the work that’s being done now will make the animal shelter better for the future.
Larami King, who recently moved to Madison with her husband, Adam, asked Commissioners about funding for veterinary services at the animal shelter. Little said he thought there was some money available, but none specifically designated for veterinary service.
Tami Hagemier of Madison encouraged those who are wanting more funding for the animal shelter to attend the next County Council meeting on Oct. 12 to voice those concerns. “We need to encourage County Council to provide humane care through adequate veterinary care” and increased budget for staffing, she said. Hagemier said the County Commissioners receive criticism for not addressing the issues, but she said that is not necessarily fair to the Commissioners because they don’t have control over the funding. “Maybe we just need to ask County Council for appropriate funding ” to provide the services the community expects.
Little said Council is “fully aware” of the issues with the animal shelter, and noted they “were very receptive” to the request from the Animal Advisory Board to provide more funding for staffing the shelter.
County Auditor Heather Huff said the animal shelter is currently budgeted $84,000 from the county, $44,000 from City of Madison and $3,000 to $4,000 from the Town of Hanover.
“Everyone needs to look at the amount that’s being put toward the animal shelter,” Huff said, noting that funding additional staff involves not only wages, but other expenses like Public Employees Retirement Fund, Federal Insurance Contributions Act contributions, and unemployment insurance.
The 2021 Broadway School Celebration runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. today in the area around Gaines Park at the north end of Broadway Street in downtown Madison.
The celebration, an annual event since 1996 with the exception of last year’s COVID-19 cancellation, reunites the school’s alumni, friends and family to celebrate the history of the first Commissioned Colored School in the State of Indiana.
The school’s high school closed in May of 1949 after consolidation with Madison High School, but grades 1-8 continued on at the site until 1957 when the remainder of the school was closed. The facility was then used as a community center until fire destroyed the structure on Dec. 31, 1968. The property was then made into a community park in the summer of 1976 and dedicated to the Rev. S. M. Gaines, who was pastor of Broadway Second Baptist Church in the neighborhood.
The annual celebration is an evening of fun and fellowship with tributes, food, music and street dancing that serve as a fundraiser for the Broadway Alumni Scholarship given annually through the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County.
Everybody is welcome to attend and support the cause. This years celebration includes:
DJ Music — 4-5 p.m.
History of Broadway School/Reunion presented by Sue Livers — 5-5:45 p.m.
Partial Rogues and Chestnuts Band — 6-7:15 p.m.
Tribute to Dave Wells by Christy Brown — 7:30-7:45 p.m.
Performance by Soul Motivation 8-9 p.m.
There will also be clowns, inflatables and face painting through the day and booths representing Jen Era Jef Order of Eastern Star, Broadway Church, MAARCH, Black History Education and a display of the city’s proposal for future park improvements.
In addition, there will be free hotdogs, Sloppy Joes and chips as well as vendors selling pulled pork and rib on a stick, Tomeka’s Sweets, T-shirts and Brenda’s Paintings.