Instructors from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) joined aviation and automotive enthusiasts from all over the region Oct. 17 to honor local healthcare workers at an exclusive event at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport.

The airport organized the invitation-only fly-in and vintage car show, which took place under nearly cloudless skies, as a way to thank medical professionals from MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital for their efforts to keep the community safe during the pandemic.

USNTPS Executive Officer Cmdr. Jeremy DeBons, Chief Flight Instructor Cmdr. David Donohue, and instructors Maj. Camille Lampert and Lt. Cmdr. Scott Elwell flew two of the school’s aircraft in for the event: a de Havilland Canada U-6A Beaver piston-engined airplane, and a Eurocopter H-72 Lakota twin-turbine helicopter. Both aircraft were popular attractions during the event, keeping all four pilots busy answering questions and pointing out the features of their aircraft.

To ensure everyone’s safety, all attendees observed strict physical distancing guidelines and wore masks throughout the event – but those requirements did not appear to get in the way of everyone having a good time. In addition to the vintage aircraft and cars on display, visitors were treated to tours of a fire engine belonging to the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department, air operations by local pilots Art Nalls, Brady Lesko, and the Patuxent Aeromodelers RC Club, and magic tricks by magician Reggie Rice. The airport provided complimentary lunches and soft drinks for visitors.

The event was part of a yearlong celebration of St. Mary’s County Regional Airport’s 50th anniversary. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of USNTPS.

“We wanted to be here today to show our appreciation for our local first responders and frontline healthcare workers,” said DeBons, whose own vintage aircraft, a 1946 Cessna 120, was on display at the fly-in. “It’s an honor to recognize their sacrifices and hard work on the community’s behalf.”