“It’s like a car show, but for planes.”
That’s how Gateway Christian Academy Principal Gwen Taylor described the school’s annual fundraiser, Wings over Wiggins, when discussing the popular event.
Held each year at Dean Griffin Memorial Airport in Wiggins, the idea for the fundraiser was hatched by Taylor, air traffic controller Cathy Kaupp, and school board member an d air traffic controller Jason Hooper as a fun way to bring awareness to aviation to the community and the state.
“You would be surprised how many people in Wiggins have no idea that we even have an airport,” Kaupp said.
“This is a fundraiser but also education for the community. Kids, big and little, enjoy getting up close to the aircraft, taking photos, and talking to the pilots.”
This year’s event, which is free to the public, has been pushed back to May 13 due to inclement weather. The show’s original date was April 15.
Because of the size of the airport runway, the event can only feature small, twin-engine planes.
“We usually have Pipers, Cessnas, Beech, and Diamond aircraft,” Kaupp said.
Pilots from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama fly in for the event and some do fly bys with smoke as they leave.
The event also features a remote-controlled aircraft demonstration by professional showman Mike Sauls and a sky-diving demonstration by All American Sky Divers which does two or three jumps throughout the day.
Past years have seen crowds from 300 people to 700.
The first year of Wings over Wiggins — 2015 — had 15 planes on hand for visitors while recent years have seen 25 planes or more.
Kaupp, who is also a pilot, said her favorite part of the event is not the most obvious.
“I’m a pilot and air traffic controller, so you would think my favorite part would be the planes. That’s my second favorite part. My favorite part is the smiles I see on the faces of children as they look up to watch the planes take off and land. I am a lover of aviation and want to instill that love in the next generation,” Kaupp said.
“It only takes one time sitting in the pilot’s seat of an aircraft to get the ‘aviation bug.’”
If you go:
What: Wings over Wiggins
Why: A fundraiser for Gateway Christian Academy (The event is free but food, drinks, commemorative t-shirts, and mugs are sold.)
When: Pushed back to Saturday, May 13. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., due to inclement weather
Where: Dean Griffin Memorial Airport in Wiggins.
For more info: 228-669-8777 or visit Wings over Wiggins on Facebook.