Photo Gallery: Aircraft blessing highlights 85th anniversary of Richland County airport

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Rainshowers were heavy Saturday but the blessings flowed at the Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport. Nearly 60 aviation enthusiasts gathered to participate in the Blessing of the Aircraft in honor the airport’s 85th anniversary.

“I thought that 85 is a milestone so we ought to do something special for it,” said airport Director Chris Eversmann.

Rites of blessing are part of the Catholic tradition. In addition to people, certain types of food and animals can be blessed as well as boats, railways, trains, fountains and bridges.

“It asks for safety and safe travel for the individual or the individuals that will be using the airplane, that it reaches its destination safely and that God’s protection be on it and its passengers and the pilot,” said Rev. Andrew J. Vollkommer, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. Saturday’s blessing was the first for Vollkommer.

A number of private planes, including a Cessna and a hand-built plane, each received a personal blessing from the reverend. The event concluded the two-day anniversary celebration of the airport anniversary that included a luncheon Friday attended by member of Richland County Council and airport commissioners among others and a breakfast Saturday for the airport’s tenants prepared by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The county-owned airport was dedicated as the Columbia Municipal Airport during a two-day event in April of 1930. Over the next 85 years, Owens Field has held a place in aviation history including a visit from Amelia Earhart. It also became the first home of Delta Airlines and Eastern Airlines in the Midlands and served as one of the few airports to be home to a Curtiss-Wright historic hangar, named after aviation pioneers Glenn Curtiss and the Wright Brothers.

The airport was renamed the Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport in 2008 after Mayor L.B. Owens, who spearheaded the airport’s creation, and longtime airport manager and former president of the South Carolina Aviation Trades Association Jim Hamilton.

Eversmann said the airport also recently launched its official website and Facebook page. The airport received a proclamation from Richland County Council and Gov. Nikki Haley commemorating its history.

Categories: Richland County