Grass Roots Flying in Snyder County



On any fair weather weekend, you’re likely to find John Miller preparing his fully-restored 1946 piper cub for flight, with fellow recreational flying enthusiasts joining him at Harold Snook’s private air strip near the Snyder County community of Beaver Springs.

“It’s just something that a lot of people want to do,” said Miller, walking through his pre-flight check.  “And some of us are just fortunate enough that we can do it.”

Miller admits he is late getting into the hobby shared by men and women around the world.

“I got into it eight years ago,” said Miller. “And now pushing 60 years old, I wish I would have done it a long time ago.”

Miller says his love of flying comes from his dad, whose private pilot training was permanently side-tracked by World War Two.  So when Miller earned his pilot’s ticket, he had his certification entered in his dad’s original training log.

At every fly-in, pre and post flight camaraderie is a big part of the sport’s appeal, but time in the air is the real draw.

Four other pilots joined Miller on this sunny Sunday afternoon, before taking off again, headed for Gary Van Horn’s farmside airstrip near Mt. Pleasant Mills, twelve aeronautical miles away.  A journey of less than fifteen minutes.

“It’s the people who make flying so much fun, ” said Miller. “If weather keeps us grounded, we ‘hangar fly.’ We sit around, drink coffee and tell stories.”

Then, with a grin he added,”It’s sort of the first liar doesn’t stand a chance kind of thing.”

To ensure this type of grass roots flying can continue in the future, the Recreational Aviation Foundation was formed, an international group aimed at preserving, maintaining and creating airstrips like the two they were enjoying today.

“Whether it’s forest service ground or just private ground,” said Alan Metzler, R.A.F. Director, “we have had great success with making this accessible for folks well into the future.”

Metzler went on to offer an open invitation for other pilots to join the fun.

“On a beautiful day, ” said Metzler, “come land your plane and join us at the diner across the street.  It’s a great time!”

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