By Tom Pawlesh
On cold winter nights my thoughts drift to warm summer days and the Geneseo Airshow. This year, winter was far from my mind as we had sunny skies, temperatures in the mid 80’s and lots of warbirds. The theme this year was “Wings of Western New York” and centered on the Curtiss and Bell aircraft that were built in the region.
If you haven’t attended the National Warplane Museum’s “Greatest Show on Turf”, you have missed a truly special warbird gathering. This is an intimate air show. No large fence separates the spectators from the aircraft or crews. Visitors are free to move along the flight line, and have the opportunity to do such things as walk through a B-17, talk to a P-51 pilot or have their children photographed in the cockpit of a Stearman biplane. In today’s high security airport environment, this is a rare opportunity to observe aviation up close and personal.
This year’s show featured a nice variety of liaison aircraft, training aircraft and vintage civilian aircraft. Bombers were represented by the North American B-25J Take Off Time and Boeing B-17 The Movie Memphis Belle. Single-engine combat aircraft were represented by two TBM Avengers, two P-51 Mustangs, a Japanese Val replica and a Chance Vought Corsair. Bell and Curtiss-manufactured aircraft on hand included three P-40’s and, making her first appearance at Geneseo, a rare Bell P-63 Kingcobra. The National Warplane Museum’s own C-47, Whiskey 7 and their C-45, were also on hand.
Besides fly-bys, warbird aerobatic performances were flown by John “Skipper” Hyle in his Harvard, Scott “Scooter” Yoak in his P-51D “Quick Silver”, Thom Richard in the American Airpower Museum’s P-40 and the aerobatic routine of the NACA/TEST P-63 flown by Mark Todd. Manfred Radius in his Salto sailplane and Rick Volker in his Sukhoi SU-26M rounded out the aerobatic displays.
On the ground were vendors and food booths, a classic car cruise and a large display of military vehicles with over 100 WWII re-enactors. Kids activities included a climbing wall and bounce house.
A big thank you goes to all the volunteers that worked hard during the show and for months before in preparation for the weekend. Also, thanks to Beech Baron pilot extraordinaire Tom Van Wingerden who did an outstanding job of flying for the air-to-air photos.