High-flying fun returns at New Garden Festival of Flight 2012

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Annual air show featured a host of WWII aircraft as well as aerobatic displays

By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer, The Times

A World War II B-25 bomber was one of the star attractions at the New Garden Festival of Flight, this past weekend. A large number of antique aircraft were on hand, along with music, performers and stunt flying.

NEW GARDEN — Once again the two-day New Garden Festival of Flight took to the skies to offer locals and out-of-towners alike a look at vintage aircraft and death-defying stunt flying.

Some of the aircraft featured in the highly popular World War II category included a P-51 D Mustang, the return of the B-25 Bomber “Briefing Time,” and a C-47 Transport plane used to drop 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers over France prior to the Normandy invasion. In addition to the vintage aircraft on the ground, veteran air show pilot Jim Beasley Jr. performed a flyby in his Spitfire Mk. XVIII, one of two left in existence.

There was also a sizable collection of civilian aircraft as well, and along with their military counterparts, some—such as Sean and Sue Neal’s Fairchild 24—had interesting histories.

“It was a civilian airplane that was very common in the 1940’s,” Sean Neal said of the aircraft. “This one is special in that it flew anti-submarine patrol off of the East coast in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II. They would take civilian airplanes with civilian pilots, arm them with 100 lbs. bombs and go flying seventy miles out to sea in all kinds of crummy weather and stop German submarines from blowing up our shipping.”

As with every year’s show, a classic car display was featured in tandem with the air show. This year, however, the U.S. Air Force made a unique entry with their specially designed “Stealth Car.”

A P-51 Mustang World War II fighter in “Red Tail” livery — made famous by the African-American Tuskegee Airmen of the 99th Fighter Squadron.

 

“The car started its life as a Dodge Challenger,” Air Force representative John Engle said. “The designer of the car was Mad Mike from the TV show ‘Pimp My Ride. Mike is a former airman and wanted to do a tribute car for the Air Force.”

Subsequently, the Air Force allowed Mike to recruit seven Air Force personnel from varying career fields to construct the vehicle. What remains stock on the car are the engine, transmission, and chassis. Every other component in and on the vehicle is of Air Force design.

“Drone technology is big in the Air Force,” Engle continued. “You can access and drive the car with something as little as an iPad. It has carbon fiber wheels, custom one of a kind sealed body with radar absorbing paint, the interior is modeled after a drone work station with flight controls and monitors in front of you.”

A World War II-era British Spitfire on the ramp at New Garden Flying Field this past weekend.

Beyond land and air vehicles, the Festival of Flight featured a wide variety of food, games for children, and a live entertainment including 1940’s themed performers:

Bill Riley and Joe Ziegler, fully adorned in Forties show-biz garb, were back to reprise the role as Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in the crowd pleasing “Ultimate Abbott and Costello Show.” Also present were the Manhattan Dolls singing group, taking the audience on a “Sentimental Journey” with a selection of boogie-woogie songs and classic standards from the Thirties and Forties.

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