Wood Co. airport celebrates 85th anniversary - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Wood Co. airport celebrates 85th anniversary

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) -

A Wood County airport is celebrating 85 years of service. People taking part in the event got a unique view of what it was like in the beginning. But, one woman came back to ride the plane again, for the first time in 85 years.

Dozens of people lined up to get a look at a piece of airplane history.

"It's a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, it's pretty much all restored to normal," said Howard Joling, Airport Manager.

It's part of the 85th anniversary of Alexander Field in Wisconsin Rapids.

Administrators said the airport is one of the oldest in the state.

Airport leaders said it was started by paper mill owners in 1928.

"They were one of the first companies in the country, in the whole U.S., not only in Wisconsin, but nationwide that used an airplane for their operations," said Joling.

93-year-old Hazel Pagel remembers her first flight there.

"I remember it was very exciting and we went over the Tri-City area," said Pagel.

And it's an experience she's never forgotten.

"That plane was exceptional for that period of time, I don't remember how many people were in it, but I'm sure it was filled," said Pagel.

Organizers said the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor plane at the event is similar to the original that flew at Alexander Field that very year.

With family and friends by her side, Pagel got her chance to ride the plane again.

"It just kind of brings back a lot of memories," said Pagel.

And although it's been about 85 years since her first flight, she said this time is just as exciting.

"Although I know it's not the original plane, it's just good to see what it looked like, bring it back to live again you might say," said Pagel.

An experience she said has truly come full circle.

Airport managers said the operating budget for the small airport is about $140,000 per year.

They said the airport generates more than $2.5 million each year for the area.

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