HAYWARD -- Free airplane rides for children, tours of the control tower and displays of classic aircraft, including a World War II B-17, are among the activities planned for the city airport's open house Saturday.
Two Tuskegee Airmen are scheduled to appear at the event, said airport manager Doug McNeeley. The airmen are among a group of men who made history by volunteering to become America's first black military pilots in World War II. Before 1940, African-Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military.
The free airplane rides for children ages 8 to 18 will be provided by the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Bay Area Black Pilots Association, McNeeley said.
Last year, one of the groups offered rides in the morning and another group did the same in the afternoon. The rides were so popular organizers had to stop taking reservations for the flights in the early afternoon, McNeeley said.
"Since demand was so strong, this year both organizations will be flying from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.," he said. "If you're a kid and you're interested in aviation, it's a great way to get introduced to flying."
The tower, which is normally closed to the public, will be open for tours, and residents can see air traffic controllers at work, McNeeley said.
The B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" will make a stop in Hayward on May 10-12 and be at the open house. The Flying Fortress was a type of World War II bomber, and the restored "Aluminum Overcast" is one of only about a dozen still airworthy.
Ground tours of the B-17, which will take place 2 to 5 p.m., are $10 for individuals and $20 for a family. There is no charge for veterans, military personnel and children younger than 8. Flights are $409 for EEA members and $449 for nonmembers who register in advance, and $435 and $475 for walk-ups. Reservations may be made online at www.b17.org, by calling 800-359-6217 or by emailing email@example.com. The flights will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The B-17 flights are separate from the free ones offered for children.
Restored warbirds, corporate jets, helicopters and experimental aircraft will be on display at the open house, and formation fly-bys are planned. There will be a bounce house at the family-friendly event, which also will have displays by the Hayward fire and police departments. Off the Grid will bring gourmet food trucks to the event. There will be drawings for a free flying lesson and a free simulator ride.
This is the sixth consecutive open house at the Hayward Executive Airport. Last year's drew more than 3,000 people, McNeeley said. The open house is sponsored by the Bay Area Black Pilots Association, Tuskegee Airmen, East Bay Aviators and Hayward Executive Airport.
Originally a World War II fighter base, the airport is home to 432 private aircraft. Last year, it had more than 83,000 landings and takeoffs.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: 20301 Skywest Drive