Fly over

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I read in our paper recently about an airplane fly over to be held in Fayette County. Let me tell you about the first one here, back in the summer of 1971.

C. J. Mowell and I were co-chairmen of the Fayette County Sesquicentennial that year, held to celebrate our county’s 150 birthday. Oh, we had grand plans and put on a front like we knew what we were doing.

We put together an eight-day event – which we realized after it was over that four or five days would have been sufficient.

One of our committee members got the bright idea to drop 200 red carnations into the town square which was going to require an airplane to do. The majority of the sesquicentennial events took place on the south side of the courthouse lawn.

Somehow I called the Air Force at Dobbins Field for assistance and they were only too glad to help. First they had to get clearance to fly from the Peachtree City airport over to Fayetteville.

Trust me, in 1971 there was nothing of concern on their way from there to here. Clearance was O. K.’d. A week before the event they had to cancel for one reason or another. By then we had advertised 200 red carnations coming down in the town square and kinda felt obligated to keep our word.

My parents had driven down from Ohio to watch the various happenings. Have I mentioned that we also put up signs around the county so you could take a tour starting in Kenwood, over to Tyrone, down to Peachtree City, heading down to Brooks and back up to Fayetteville.

Folks, there were at least100 things to look after, and I was up day and night for 3 days without any sleep. I fractured my ankle going out my own back door requiring a full leg cast. A radio reporter came over from Newnan for an interview and I shared my problem of having 200 red carnations, with stems thoughtfully cut off by florist Bess Ingram so they would drop down better, but no plane to drop them. The reporter said he knew a pilot that could do that, with just a few days to put all that together.

Between my fractured ankle complete with a full cast and the airplane thing, my mother couldn’t take it any longer and they drove back home 4 days earlier than planned. Bless her heart.

Senator Herman Talmadge was our speaker – a pretty important fella. When his speech sounded as it was winding down the Fayetteville police chief was to get on his radio and tell the Peachtree police chief to tell the pilot to head out. I motioned my son to go tell our police chief to call. Guess what – my son couldn’t find him. The Peachtree police chief thought surely it was time and waived at the pilot to go. There’s just one problem – Senator Talmadge wasn’t nearly through yet and I couldn’t get any of the guys sitting by me to get up and let him know just what was about to happen.

And yes, the airplane appeared over the town square, deftly dropping the 200 red carnations right down with nary a one hitting in a tree. Fortunately the Senator took it all in stride and the Atlanta channels present never knew about the almost embarrassing boo-boo that turned out to be one that hundreds of Fayette Countians will never forget.

I hope the most recent fly-over went off without any hitches.