New Garden Festival of Flight 2011 a soaring success

Crowds gathered at the New Garden Flying Field despite overcast skies and humidity

By P.J. D’Annunzio, Staff Writer,

Once again, the New Garden Festival of Flight was a big success with big crowds and two thrill-packed days of exhibits and exhibitions. This P-40 was just one of many vintage war aircraft on display.

NEW GARDEN — A distant rumble echoed through the air causing patrons to look skyward into the gray, overcast skies. Emerging from the clouds were a trio of World War II-era North American “Texan” aircraft flying in formation over the New Garden Flying Field, the throaty roar of their 600 horsepower radial engines leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that the festival was in full swing.

The two-day air show offered many aerial displays such as aerobatics from wing-walker Jane Wicker, stunt-flying by Matt Chapman in a CAP 580, the flight of the C-54 Spirit of Freedom, and demonstrations from the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) including those of the P-40 Warhawk and the P-51D Mustang.

This giant C-54 transport loomed over the show. It is one of the largest planes ever to land at New Garden Flying field.

“The CAF was originally formed in 1957 by two WWII bomber pilots who purchased some old planes from the war,” said Stan Musick, CAF pilot of the P-51. Dedicated to the preservation of WWII-era aircraft, the CAF endeavors to acquire and maintain their aircraft in an operational state in order to provide the public with first hand knowledge of the capabilities and the history of these vintage war planes. The largely volunteer-staffed organization has roughly 130-functional WWII aircraft from both the Allied and Axis sides.

Vintage aircraft were not the only ones to be present at the festival, however: an Air Force B-2 stealth bomber made a flyby during the festival on Saturday, providing the crowd with a look at the current generation of military airpower. The B-2 Spirit bomber has been in the service of the United States Air Force since 1997 and has seen action from campaigns during the Kosovo War to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This year’s festival also drew a wide variety of patrons, including some veterans.

This P-51 Mustang fighter drew a lot of attention.

“I used to be a B-25 pilot in the South Pacific during World War II,” Joseph Miller said, dressed in his original Army Air Corps uniform. The York, PA native is the owner of an L-3B Grasshopper housed at New Garden and travels “all over the country” to air shows. “I think these events are important for the general public, and especially the younger generations, to learn about the Second World War,” he said.

The attractions at the festival also extended to the ground. An impressive classic car lineup was on exhibit in between the airport’s hangars as well as a military reenactment display of WWII American, German, and Italian army vehicles including motorcycles, jeeps, half tracks, ambulances, artillery pieces, transport trucks, and officer’s cars.

The show also included amenities such as food and drink vendors. Stands included everything from seafood to cheese steaks to ice cream to funnel cake. There were also clothing and toy vendors as well as carnival style games including a moon-bounce, free-throw hoops, and a mini RC racing track  to name a few.

In addition to aircraft, there was a great display of classic cars, including this Ford Mustang Boss 429.

Finally, several authentic 1940s themed performers were on hand to entertain the crowd with nostalgic flair.

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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