Auction winner enjoys ride in 1957 Cessna

Published 4:01 pm Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Robert Williamson of Columbus was the winner of the live auction for a free airplane ride with local Tryon pilot, Bob Schaefer. Schaefer offered the ride in his restored 1957 Cessna 172 to the highest bidder during the &dquo;Memorial Day Singing for the Soldiers&dquo; held at Veteran&squo;s Memorial Park in Columbus on May 26.

Williamson&squo;s wife, Deb, won the bid and gave it to him as an early birthday present. Williamson said he enjoyed the afternoon flight from the Downtown Greenville Airport, where Schaefer stores his plane, to the Rutherford Airport, where he was treated to lunch and music.

After a birds-eye-view of Rutherford and Polk counties and the Upstate, Williamson returned to the Greenville airport. Williamson said he has always enjoyed small aircraft and particularly the Cessna &dquo;family&dquo; and Schaefer proved to be a great pilot and gracious &dquo;air guide.&dquo; Asked if he had a good time, Williamson, with a huge grin, asked Schaefer when he could go again!

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As an additional and totally unexpected treat that day, it just so happened that the President&squo;s (yes, that&squo;s President Bush), Marine One helicopter was at the Downtown Greenville Airport (President Bush had flown into the Greenville/Spartanburg airport to give the commencement address to the graduating class at Furman University). Schaefer escorted Williamson to the hangar, where they got to see the magnificent &dquo;bird&dquo; up close.

Williamson said they also had the privilege to meet several of Marine One&squo;s assigned pilots and crew members. Marine One follows the president to all his &dquo;homeland&dquo; engagements as a back up in case of &dquo;change in plans&dquo; or &dquo;emergencies.&dquo;

The funds from the &dquo;Singing for the Soldiers&dquo; silent and live auctions, raffle tickets, donations, and the sale of food and drinks will go towards the purchase and shipping of items to our active duty military in Iraq. The next &dquo;Singing for the Soldiers&dquo; event is planned for November at the Saluda School.

In the meantime, if you would like to contribute to the &dquo;Soldier Fund&dquo;, you may do so by contacting Sherry Carney at (828) 817-3061.

‐ article submitted