April 8, 2005
Duggy brings smiles from sky
Cartoon-character airplanes part of promotional effort
By Timothy R. Gaffney

Dayton Daily News

DAYTON | Wearing bright yellow paint and a big grin, a vintage DC-3 airliner nicknamed Duggy delighted 200 local schoolchildren Friday with a visit to Dayton International Airport.

The airplane glowed under a brilliant blue sky as third- and fourth-graders from Kettering, Russia and Springfield schools climbed into it and compared it with a 1903 Wright Flyer replica parked nearby.

Duggy is the flying ambassador for the National Aviation Hall of Fame's SkyReach, the youth education program it launched last year.

The airplane stopped here on its way from North Dakota to Lakeland, Fla., where the hall of fame plans to debut it at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Sun 'n' Fun air show next week.

But the attention-getting airliner has already created a buzz in aviation circles, according to NAHF Executive Director Ron Kaplan.

He said aviation magazines have lined up chase planes to photograph it in flight with an escort of World War II-vintage warbirds over Tennessee.

"A yellow, smiling airplane is hard to keep under wraps," he admitted.

Duggy and Friends are five cartoon characters created by Columbus artist Mitch Carley and licensed by NAHF for SkyReach.

One of Duggy's friends is Flyer, derived from the Wright brothers' first powered airplane.

The Wright Brothers Aeroplane Co. played host to Duggy, displaying its Wright Flyer replica and giving tours of its hangar where other Wright replicas are on display or under construction.

Kaplan said the airplane and custom paint job were provided by Bob Odegaard of Kindred, N.D, an air racer who has displayed his restored F2G-1D Super Corsair at the Dayton Air Show.

Kaplan said the flying display is the result of a partnership formed by NAHF, Carley and Odegaard to promote education.

While the cartoon characters are airplanes, Kaplan said the character-based education program is designed to introduce children to hall of fame enshrinees.

The Dayton-based organization preserves the memories of America's outstanding air and space pioneers.

"Duggy" refers to Donald Douglas, the DC-3s designer and an enshrinee. "Flyer" represents Wilbur and Orville Wright, who were among the organizations' original enshrinees.

Kaplan said they plan to show Duggy at about two dozen air shows this year — if they can raise the $500,000 he estimates the tour will cost.

The hall of fame is producing educational handouts under a U.S. Department of Education grant, but Kaplan said "it's absolutely essential" to get corporate sponsorships or institutional grants to cover operating costs.

Contact Timothy Gaffney at 225-2390.
Copyright 2005 Dayton Daily News