by Tom Pawlesh
The National Warplane Museum held their annual “Greatest Show on Turf” air display in Geneseo, New York over the weekend of July 10/11, 2021. after a year off due to Covid 19. This was the event’s 40th anniversary, which they titled Operation Thanks From Above to honor the countless first responders, essential workers and medical personnel who have helped others throughout the pandemic. This year, the air show adopted a drive-in style arrangement, with each vehicle assigned a 20’ x 20’ square for viewing. The drive-in style seemed to be well-accepted by attendees; visitors spread out their blankets, chairs and food and picnicked next to their cars. Restrooms were spread out for social distancing and to eliminate long walks from vehicles. While most people brought their own food and drinks, food trucks were present on the field.
This year had a great lineup of performers, as always. Greg Koontz and the Alabama Boys put on a comedy routine where Greg landed his Piper Cub on a moving pickup truck. Greg also flew an aerobatic display in his Decathlon. Rick Volker put on a spirited display in his Sukhoi Su-26M while Rob Holland did similarly in his MXS-RH. Warbird aerobatics were also on hand with Thom Richard in his Curtiss P-40 Warhawk American Dream and Lou Horschel in P-51D Mad Max. The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association also flew a four ship routine.
The rest of the show consisted of fly-bys from liaison and training aircraft, a replica Fokker D.VII, and then ‘heavy iron’ in the form of the National Warplane Museum’s D-Day veteran C-47A Whiskey 7 and Air Heritage Museum’s WWII combat-veteran C-47B Luck of the Irish. Whiskey 7 also provided rides to customers both before and after the show. The all-female Misty Blues skydiving team rounded out the main air show program, while the finale featured the F-22 Raptor Demo Team from Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Langley, Virginia.
Adding to the weekend’s festivities, the Geneseo Rotary Summer Festival was also taking place in the Village Park. This fun family event included outdoor concerts, art, crafts and food vendors. Add this to The Greatest Show on Turf and you come up with a fantastic summer weekend for the whole family, not to mention a great reason for visiting Geneseo.
I would like to extend a big thank you to all of the volunteers who made the air show possible, and especially to the National Warplane Museum’s Dave Cooper for his help with my coverage of the show. I had the privilege to fly in Whiskey 7 for a photo-shoot on Saturday evening, so a big thank you must also go to the pilots of the photo plane, Chris Polhemus and Pete Triecler. Lastly, thank you to some of the best pilots in the world, Rob Holland, Greg Koontz, Rick Volker, Lou Horschel and Thom Richard for their help with the air-to-air photography!