McDonald resident flying high with raffle prize

HOWLAND — Folks from as far away as Alaska tried to win the two-seat airplane raffled off by the Ernie Hall Aviation Museum.

The winner was someone who grew up across the street from the airfield.

David Murray, a Howland native who recently moved back to the area after 37 years in California and now lives in McDonald, bought the ticket that was drawn from the hopper last month by township Administrator Darlene St. George.

“It was shocking,” Murray said. “I started shaking.”

Murray isn’t a pilot, but his son is. However, he plans to sell the 1992 Aviat Husky A-1 two-seater, which is valued at $85,000.

He wants one flight in it first.

“I have somebody brokering it now,” he said. “I just want to go up one time and be able to say, ‘Yeah, I was in it.'”

Murray grew up across from the airfield at 4033 N. River Road and knew Bill Griffin, who started the museum devoted to the area’s aviation history. Griffin died in 2019.

“I grew up with the Griffins, and they’ve always been airplane-oriented,” Murray said. “I just wanted to support the museum. That’s why we bought the tickets and, amazingly, they picked my name.”

Barbara Wyatt of Wyoming won the $2,000 second prize, Lawrence Morrisroe of Montana won the $1,000 third prize and Carrie Nassonti of Ohio won the Sporty’s radio for fourth prize.

The biggest winner may have been the museum itself, which raised more than enough money to offset the loss of its major fundraiser, the Wings and Wheels car-airplane show traditionally held in August. It was canceled because of the COVID-19 restrictions on crowd size.

Board member Tom Grohl said, “Ticket sales went very well. We said we wouldn’t sell more than 4,000 tickets (at $50 apiece), and we came up about 100 tickets short of that. We had a lot of activity online from all around the country. At least in my mind, I’m glad some local person won it.”

In addition to covering operating expenses for the museum, the money will be used to purchase a flight simulator that will give visitors a chance to experience what it’s like in the cockpit and provide early flight training for children. The board also will meet next week to finalize plans to establish an aviation scholarship in Griffin’s memory.

“We need to get some young people involved in this museum and aviation, and that is a way to do it,” Grohl said.

The museum also donated $1,500 to Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley to help feed the hungry during the holidays.


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