Students attending Vacation Bible School were given a real-life history lesson Wednesday when a Vietnam-era UH-1H “Huey” helicopter touched down at the Covington Municipal Airport and flew students around the county.
As part of its VBS program “Sky: Everything is Possible with God,” Presbyterian Church of the Resurrection in Conyers set up helicopter rides for its students through the nonprofit Army Aviation Heritage Foundation.
“They all had a blast, I can tell you that,” said Rusty Anglin with the Covington Airport.
After a brief safety lesson, the students went on 10 to 15-minute flights up to Lake Varner and back to the airport, during which the pilot did some maneuvers, including a couple of steep turns and a negative G-force drop followed by a positive G-force rise, Anglin said.
The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation is based out of Hampton, and its Sky Soldiers demonstration teams do events around the Southeast, teaching people about the role of the military through “living history” lessons.
“One thing their organization does is keep alive the valor and glory of the men who serve our country,” said Jane Scott, who helped organize her church’s week of Vacation Bible School. “The children get to actually experience what the men and women who serve our country do when they fly in those helicopters.
“One of the challenges for students was to look outside and see God. If you take a look, you can see God all around,” said Scott, adding that being in a helicopter gave students a new perspective on their environment and faith. “The sky is limitless, and God’s grace, love and joy are limitless.”
The idea for the flights came from John Toler, a church member and former pilot in the Vietnam War.
“His love is aviation and anything to do with aviation. He’s kind of like a granddaddy to all of the kids, and when he found out that ‘Sky’ was the theme of the VBS, he said, ‘This is my calling,’” Scott said.
Toler is also a member of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation, which is a volunteer-driven group.