Natchez Fly-In not the first, not the last

Published 8:23 pm Friday, April 9, 2021

It’s not any fun to take criticism, but if you have to, you want it to come from Wayne Simmons.

Wayne, in the very nicest way possible, pointed out to me recently that I had erred when I wrote the recent fly-in at the Natchez-Adams County Airport was the first.

It was not, as Wayne kindly pointed out.

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Wayne began with, “Nice article on the Natchez Airport Fly-In and so glad the fly-in turned out well. However, it wasn’t the FIRST fly-in.”

Wayne wrote the terminal building at the Natchez airport was built in 1959 and since that time, it has been host to many fly-ins.

“In the 1990s, the Navions and others come to mind. The 2004 airshow with Corkey Fornoff as Airshow Boss, was organized by the Simmons family,” he wrote. “It featured Skip Stewart and Randy Henderson.

“In December 2003, the terminal building was named the Simmons Terminal Building in honor of Billy Simmons (former director) and in memory of Helen Simmons for their many years of service dedicated to the airport. There may still be a plaque above the water fountain in the terminal building commemorating that event.”

Simmons said Billy Simmons, who was his father, along with him and his brother, Don Simmons, wrote a booklet titled, “The History of Aviation in Natchez.”

“The Natchez Museum was given several copies. I really don’t know if they have any left or if they even pursued their idea of having an area in the museum dedicated to the aviation aspect of Natchez,” he wrote. “We invested a lot of sweat and spirit into the airport and are always glad to see it do well.”

The Natchez-Adams County Airport is doing well, at least in terms of local interest and effort.

The March Fly-In was a bigger success than anyone imagined. It drew double the number of aircraft expected and many more visitors to the airport.

Vendors ran out of food and drink, and many lessons were learned by those in charge about how they want to handle things next time. Because of that overwhelming success, there certainly will be a next time.

It wasn’t something that just happened. The event required lots of area volunteers from those who use the airport on a regular basis, like pilot Tate Hobdy. Also, Richard Nelson and the airport staff put in countless hours, as did many other volunteers.

It was a fun way to spend an early spring day with the family. We all look forward to spending time at the airport as a community for another fly-in next spring.

Jan Griffey is editor and general manager of The Natchez Democrat. You may reach her at 601-445-3627 or by emailing Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.