There are a variety of reasons why pilots take to the skies, and undoubtedly one of them is the enjoyment it brings. Although Drew Smith, an aviation professor at K-State Salina, loves to fly for the thrill of it, he often does it to bring others happiness. So when Smith’s daughter, Jessica, asked for her dad’s help with a special aviation project, he couldn’t say no.
Jessica Smith is a senior at Sterling College and a student teacher at Southeast of Saline Elementary School. The fifth-graders she works with are currently reading a book called “Candy Bomber” – the story of a pilot that drops candy to children in Berlin post World War II. She thought it might be fun for the students to experience the same excitement as the kids in the book, so she asked her dad to play the part of the pilot. Although dropping candy at just the right time so it lands in just the right place might seem like a difficult task, Smith has had plenty of practice.
“I’ve actually dropped care packages to Jessica at school,” Smith said. “Sterling College doesn’t have a runway for me to land. So when her mom or I have something we want to bring her, I fly over to a designated area in Sterling and drop packages to her.”
Smith talked to his friend Ron Chandler about borrowing a plane and on Jan. 22, he and his wife took off in a RANS S6S Coyote II. Smith battled moderate winds that day and made sure to stay a safe distance from the crowd of children, parents and teachers that gathered on the Southeast of Salina football field.
As soon as the plane flew over the 50-yard line, Smith told his wife to tip the bucket for the candy drop. The fifth-grade class squealed with glee as the small packages of goodies floated to the ground. One of the parents shot a video of the fly-over and Smith says the children’s reactions are exactly why he wanted to take part in that day.