The Hill Aerospace Museum became a bustling epicenter for family activity Sept. 17 as it hosted its annual Wings and Wheels event.
The event began around 9 a.m. with the museum opening with the car show in place, nestled between the facility's two bays. Within the bays and on the museum grounds, about a dozen airplanes were opened up for public exploration during the day. The event is the only annual time of the year the museum will open up the airplanes to the public.
Museum volunteers, who make up 96 percent of the museum's manpower, and staff were on hand during the event to answer questions about the event and the planes. Since a majority of the volunteers are veterans, many willingly shared their experiences in the service, or with one particular plane.
Scott Wirz, the museum director, said the dedication of time and effort his volunteers give to the museum and, in particular, the event "is amazing. It's so rewarding to see our volunteers have fun."
Canned food was collected all day for the Food for Life portion of the event. Food for Life is the canned food drive the museum does in association with Wings and Wheels and once the show is done, the goods are brought over to the Airman's Attic to support struggling Airmen and their families.
"People don't realize how many Airmen struggle to put food on the table, and we're talking someone who is defending our country," Wirz said.
Airman's Attic received at least two pick-up truck loads of canned food, and the Attic's new managers, Joanna Batzer and Millie Grindstaff said they doubled the pantry size with the donations they received. Grindstaff and Batzer both were pleased that they can now give more food out as the holiday season approaches to those who are in fiscal need.
Because of the morning's rainy weather, the car show didn't turn out to be as big as planned, said Jeff Holm, a museum volunteer and the car show's facilitator. About 45 cars cruised onto museum grounds Saturday morning, a little under a third of the usual 150 cars that the grounds have had in the past. The car show is in its third year and Holm is hoping as time goes on, that it can grow and continue to support the Food for Life program.
"If you get the right people together for the right cause, it can really make a difference," said J.C. Hackett, the disc jockey for the car show. Hackett returned this year to the Wings and Wheels event and travels extensively around Utah broadcasting oldies at car shows and cruise nights.
The stormy weather also affected the Air Force Association Chapter 237 10th annual Sept. 11 Memorial Ride. The ride normally has about 100 riders, compared to the 50 who turned up this time. This year, Brandon Strong, the chapter's president, said they had riders from two mainstay groups connected with the base: Hill Riders, who are military and civilian motorcycle riders from the base, and the Patriot Guard.
The ride started in Layton at the Moon Dog's Cafe at 9 a.m. and went on an estimated 85 mile-long ride that ended at the museum. The $25 registration fee went directly to support Hill Airmen and their families. Strong said he always tries to coordinate the event to happen the same day as the museum's Wings and Wheels event and the AFA chili cook-off.
"My favorite part was seeing it all come together when the riders pulled into the museum and lined up their bikes," Strong added.
Despite low participation from the car show and the motorcycle ride, the chili cook off had 14 teams participate and more than 400 people stopped by to taste the competitors' chili. Bob George, the AFA chapter president, said the cook-off seemed to be more popular this year as it ended about an hour after it usually does.
There were three competition categories in the cook-off: military, non-military and people's choice. The people's choice of best chili went to the "Going Bananas" group while the non-military category's best chili went to the "Tiki Chili" group. The military category winner was Eric Hildebrand from 729th Air Control Squadron and his team.
Judges determined the winners based on different elements of the chili, spiciness, texture, appearance and also took into account the teams' presentation -- including such things as how the booth was set up, and if they were having fun. There was a booth with a werewolf theme, and other participants were found in hula skirts and leis.
Near the end of the event, George said the weather has usually turned sour, but this year, it rained in the morning and cleared up for the rest of the day.
"I guess when you're doing something good, you get smiled on," said George.
AFA Chapter 235 donates $2,000 to the Utah Military Families Association with funds raised from the event.
In addition to all the other activities, the Ogden Concert Band performed at noon in front of the F-16 on display in the museum's fighter planes gallery. Hill's fire department was also there with one of their fire trucks, giving out hats and stickers. The base's military working dogs also gave a demonstration with their owners.