The Greatest Show on Turf, 2012
The Annual 1941 Historical Aircraft Group’s Airshow at Geneseo, NY lived up to its moniker of being “The Greatest Show on Turf” again this year. The show constituted more than six hours of aviation action peppered with aerobatics, stunt flyers, warbirds galore and a tribute to veterans of both Canada and the United States.
Among the aerobatic performers was Trevor Rafferty flying the Rafferty Javelin, an airplane of his own design and construction. Rick Volker in The Swift Fuel Sukhoi SU26M flew a two-ship routine with Rob Holland in the Veterans Home Loans MX2 that really showed the capabilities of these two aircraft. The very end of Rick and Rob’s routine was interrupted by a seemingly errant takeoff that turned out to be Kent Pietsch in the Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet. Kent does a routine where he is seemingly out of control due to an aileron falling off his aircraft. Later in the show he continued to demonstrate his skill in two stunts. He landed his plane on a moving RV, comes to a complete stop and then takes to the air. Later in the show Kent shut off his engine at 6,000 feet and turns the Cadet in to a glider and accomplishes a dead stick landing at show center.
Also performing aerobatics were one of my favorite teams, The Canadian Harvards. There is something about the sound of the Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine combined with the brilliant yellow paint and the formation aerobatics that appeals to every warbird buff in the crowd.
The first of the groups of warbird trainers to make circuits around the field were 4 Boeing/Stearman Kaydets. Two of these Primary Trainers were in US Army Air Corps/Air Force trainer colors, one painted in a US Navy “Yellow Peril” scheme and one in civilian livery. A short while later were the Liaison/Observation aircraft with several variations of Aeronca aircraft as well as a Ryan Navion and an Ercoupe. In the afternoon more allied trainers took to the air in the form of a Vultee BT-13 and mix of North American Texan variants, two as SNJs, one AT-6 and single Harvard.
Around noontime the aerial displays were put on hold to take a view minutes to honor both Canadian and American Veterans with the singing of both countries’ National Anthems. Timed with the end of the vocal was a missing man formation.
After honoring our veterans the crowd was given a demonstration of airborne warfare World War II style. The Liberty Jump Team embarked upon the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group’s C-47 ‘Whiskey 7’ which climbed to altitude and dropped two sticks of six jumpers all landing in the bean field that stretched before the crowd.
The highlight of the day began when the Warbird fighters and bombers taxied out for their circuits around the turf. Leading the pack was the American Airpower Museum’s B-25 Mitchell ‘Miss Hap’, so named because it once served as General Hap Arnold’s personal aircraft. Two stars of the historical epic motion picture ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’ were part of the show, Mitsubishi Zero replica NX60DJ (actually a Harvard Mk. 4) and Aichi Val replica N56857 (actually a Vultee BT-13). Also from the American Airpower Museum was Curtiss P-40 ‘Jacky C’. The final warbird making circuits has been the recipient of many awards including Best Fighter at the 2011l EAA Airventure Convention, it is Jim Tobul’s Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair ‘Korean War Hero’.
Greatest Show on turf indeed, but a pretty darn good show anywhere!
Story and Photos by Rich Filteau