A dream come true

WEIRTON – What started out as a dream based in a love of aviation has become reality for a Weirton man.

Documentarian Tom Robertson, of Weirton, has been working for the last several years to document the history of aviation in the Ohio Valley, including a focus on the former Ohio Valley Flight Academy.

Robertson explained the project initially was planned as a reality television program about aviation at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport.

“It evolved into more of a documentary about aviation and learning to fly,” Robertson said.

The latest installment of the series is set to air 10:30 p.m. Tuesday on West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Robertson explained he has always enjoyed aviation, but seriously began considering the project after watching a television special during which it was stated that if you tell a person your dream and they don’t laugh, you’re not dreaming big enough.

“It gave me the inspiration,” Robertson said.

Tuesday’s episode includes an interview with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, completed when he was still governor.

“He is an aviation enthusiast,” said host JoAnn Gould, of Wheeling. “He actually flew himself in here that day.”

Also featured is Tom Tominack, the recently retired manager of the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport, who discusses the history of the airport, and a profile on the B-25 “Maid in the Shade,” which visited the Wheeling area in 2013.

As part of the B-25’s visit, the documentary crew had the opportunity to attach a camera to the aircraft and film some of its flights while in the area.

“We had in-flight footage,” Gould said.

The documentary also includes segments on a girl going on her first flight and an individual taking their first solo flight, including three take-offs and three landings.

Gould, who is an instrument-rated private pilot, also hosted the first installment of the series, explaining her status as a pilot took some of the stress off of dealing with the subject.

“It made talking to the pilots a little easier,” Gould said.

The first installment included interviews with local pilots, a pre-flight safety inspection of a Cessna 152, and an interview with the pilot-in-command of the Commemorative Air Force restored B17 “Sentimental Journey” during a stop in the Ohio Valley.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)