Airplane enthusiasts of all ages gathered Saturday afternoon to enjoy the third annual Airport Day at Valley Aviation in Forty Fort.
The event included plane rides and close-up views of a variety of passenger and military fighter aircraft.
Sponsored by the nonprofit group Fallen Officers Remembered, the event raised funds used to purchase bulletproof vests for law enforcement personnel around the Wyoming Valley.
Gina Boyle and her sister Jaclyn Mosley started the Fallen Officers organization after their brother Rodney Pocceschi was killed in the line of duty in June 2003 while working on the Virginia Beach police department.
Both sisters felt compelled to do something to honor their brother and help other officers and families from suffering a similar fate, Boyle said. They have given more than 200 vests to local law enforcement personnel since 2006.
The Airport Day event has grown significantly over the last three years, Boyle said. She expected more than 1,000 people to attend Saturday’s event as more activities have been added.
What started as a few vendors has blossomed into a “mini-air show,” she said.
Besides the array of flying machines available for inspection, event-goers could participate in raffles for baskets from, among others, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Avon and Marc’s Tattooing. Children’s activities, live music and an open barbecue were also available.
Boyle admitted preparing the event can be “exhausting,” but she was thankful for the help she received. More than 20 US Airways co-workers, she called the “Do Crew,” helped set up the event and provide customer service; other volunteers included friends and family members involved in Fallen Officers.
Also, she thanked the people from Valley Aviation who had volunteered their time and the use of the facility for the last three years.
“It is all worthwhile when we hand an officer one of these vests,” she said.
Some smaller municipalities can’t afford to provide enough vests for their officers, especially the ones that work part time, Boyle said. Even part-time officers face the danger of being shot, she pointed out.
Scott Davis, a sergeant for the Jackson Township police department, said area police departments appreciate the efforts of Fallen Officers. “Bulletproof vests are vital for officers in the field,” Davis said. “They keep them safe.”
He added a professionally engineered bulletproof vest used by police departments can cost more than $1,000 each, making it difficult for some departments to afford them.