Model “A” Ford Club tours Kent Island by air
KENT ISLAND — Several members of the George Washington Chapter of the Model “A” Ford Club of America comprised of nearly 200 individual owners from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, “who appreciate the rugged dependability and timeless style of the Model “A” Ford” journeyed to Kent Island early in September to take in the sights of the Eastern Shore. The group of antique car buffs came to stay at the historic Kent Manor Inn and visit Kentmorr Airpark where they were treated to rides in a vintage plane.
One local, Susan Hale, observed the group at the Valero gas station, and photographed the biplane, once belonging to Anne Morrow Lindberg, as it flew over her house that morning.
The Alexandria Bestway, was the main rally point of the Kent Island Tour, relayed club member Jason Cunningham. “The route,” said Cunningham, “was a custom creation no GPS could comprehend. It was designed to minimize time on high-speed highways and maximize time on scenic back roads with wide shoulders. Many of us were surprised by just how beautiful and peaceful a route other than 495/Route 50 could be. However, there was no avoiding the dreaded Bay Bridge and it’s 5 miles of high speed, shoulder-less roadway.”
Cunningham said the group followed every alternative roadway possible, even following one road that ran parallel to route 50, and came so close to the highway, it was separated by a mere 3 feet of grass.
To Cunningham’s surprise, getting through the toll booth was a breeze, and once the train of 15 antique cars made it through, they were able to easily merge into the empty right-hand lane and climb the bridge. “Cars passed us on the left at a leisurely pace, and we all enjoyed the scenery from high above the large cargo ships, and small pleasure craft far down on the water below,” said Cunningham, pleased their were no mechanical problems while on the bridge.
The club stopped first at the airfield. It was a genuinely exiting scene right out of the 1930s, said Cunningham. The plane admired so by Cunningham and his fellow club members was in Cunningham’s words, “Beautiful. Its silver propeller glistening in the light. The bright yellow wings stood in sharp contrast to the azure blue sky.”
Mike Pangia, owner of the famed “Bird”, a plane that was once notoriously owned by according to Civil Aeronautics Administration records, Mrs. Charles A. Lindbergh. As the story goes, Charles Lindbergh bought his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh the Bird to help her learn to fly. Morrow Lindbergh reportedly learned to fly in the “Bird” and eventually flew over five continents and subsequently spent nearly six months surveying Atlantic flight routes using other planes.
Pangia, an attorney who practices in D.C., purchased the plane from Joe Fichera, who owns the home adjacent to the Kentmorr Airpark. The plane is still kept housed in Fichera’s hangar and has been much sought after by the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.
“Mike Pangia was the soul of generosity,” said Cunningham, as he took 18 of the group — all who wanted a ride aloft individually over the course of the day. Each was treated to a short flight, flying large figure-eights over the field and out over the Chesapeake Bay, which was conveniently at the end of the runway, quipped Cunningham. “The flights were absolutely the highlight of the entire weekend,” he said.
The group stayed at the Historic Kent Manor Inn – an apt setting for their antique cars, said Cunningham, with its long, treelined driveway, views of the water, sweeping lawns and gardens, and cupola on top.
The club later partook in supper at Annie’s Paramount Steak and Seafood and lauded the prompt service and delicious food.
Sunday morning the group shared in a continental breakfast offered by the inn before departing for the final leg of their trip a short walking trip of Annapolis and visit to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum.
Vintage car enthusiasts visit Kentmorr Airpark for a chance to ride in a vintage plane.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Bird” is complemented by this classic Ford roadster belonging to a member of the George Washington Chapter of Model “A” Ford Club.
The plane of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, now belonging to Mike Pangia, flies over Kent Island, Sept. 9.