Souther Field to observe 100th birthday this weekend.

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By Marty Steiner

AMERICUS — Meet 300 World War I Souther Field airmen!
How can this be possible? There are no living World War I veterans!
Come out to the Historic Souther Field Centennial Open House and Fly-In from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20-21 and see an original group photo of the entire base personnel — more than 300 men from January 1919. This rare item, loaned just for this event, will be on display along with many other historical items from the local airport’s 100 years of service.
What is a fly-in anyway? Airplane owners, just like hunters, football fans, golfers like to get together! They also like to share their love of flying with others. So, airplane owners frequently get together at different airports to show off their airplanes and just for fellowship. This weekend the fly-in is here at our Historic Souther Field (Jimmy Carter Regional Airport).
Interested in taking a ride in an airplane or helicopter? You can! Rides will be offered by a variety of airplane groups and individuals. There may be fees for some of these. (Airplanes do use gasoline, you know.) Helicopter rides may also be offered.
Sometimes kids get bored. Are there any activities for them? Of course: Dry Slide, Bouncy House and face painting ought to provide pint-sized entertainment. And Americus Fire & Emergency Services will have some special treats.
Walking around will make you hungry and thirsty. Will there be anything to eat and drink at the airport? Fun food for a fun day will include barbecue from 19th Street South, Dawson’s Farmhouse for burgers and hot-dogs with snow cones and cotton candy from Trey Harmon.
For the history buff, Souther Field is believed to be the oldest airport in Georgia. It started out on July 4th in 1918, as a World War I Army Air Service (now the U.S. Air Force) training field. While little of that era remains, a group of local folks are planning and working to bring back much of that history.
As a start, an original World War I airplane engine will be on display. A replica of one of Georgia’s first airplanes built in 1912, by Ben Epps in Athens also will be on site. Local airport historian Mike Cochran will have much of his memorabilia on display from when Souther Field again served the nation as a pilot training base during World War II.
Military aircraft from more recent times will be “flying-in” as well. Their pilots will be on hand to describe the airplane’s original use in the service. The Albany Civil Air Patrol will be here to tell their story along with their airplane and Angel Flight will explain how they help folks get to needed medical facilities quickly and at no cost.
And if all that activity starts to wear you out, then just “set a-spell” and listen to the live music of Taylor Welch from 3-5 p.m. Want to take this fun home? Then consider a Sumter Humane Society adoption (you know you want a puppy or kitty) or a special T-shirt or two.
But most of all, come on out, have a good time, and learn a little about our Historic Souther Field!