Toughkenamon, PA – Just an hour’s drive west of Philadelphia, along country roads and rolling hills, you’ll find a small airport nestled away in Toughkenamon, Pennsylvania. The New Garden Airport has a flight school, an EAA Chapter and every August is host to the annual car and air show known as the Festival of Flight. This event is a local favorite since it brings home town feel and excellent performers to the stage.
Air Museum Network arrived at the event as the army of volunteers finished setting up, and the performers were adding fuel to the aircraft for the day’s show. We had the opportunity to speak with some of the performers who were ecstatic to be at the show and excited to perform. Some highlighted performers included Jason Flood, Scott Francis, Dan Marcotte, Paul Dougherty, the B-25 Mitchell (“Briefing Time”) from the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, and a Corsair from the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA. Sunday morning would start with a 5K charity run down the newly paved runway.
Covering this event is challenging to say the least. Air Museum Network joined other media representatives in the photo pit located inside the air show box. This is an incredibly unique perspective as one actually gets to feel the speed of these aircraft and witness up close the amount of maneuvering it takes to perform at an air show!
The event opened with local jumpers parachuting to the ground as Jason Flood circled them during the playing of the National Anthem. The Stars and Stripes unfurled with the beautiful blue sky as the backdrop. Jason would open the flying sequences with his incredible routine! With crisp maneuvers, this young performer showed the crowd what his modified Pitt Special aircraft can do! The crowd would be treated to the sound of three radial engines of SNJs/Texans.
These warbirds would fly a number of passes and showcase the beauty of the aircraft as they flew in formation. On every pass, the aircraft belt out the sound of propeller tips traveling at supersonic speeds! Kevin Russo, in his beautiful SNJ, would break off to perform his solo routine. The maneuvers performed are similar to those the pilots of WWII would fly in training in this same type of aircraft.
The Coast Guard sent an MH-65 Dauphin out of Atlantic City. Besides being on static display, this helo and crew performed a search and rescue demonstration. It is an incredible experience to see a helicopter, just feet away, dropping a rescue swimmer with the use of a hoist cable. After hovering for a matter of minutes, the helo would give a series of passes and fly back to base as it was only about a 20-30 minute flight. Saturday spectators were treated to a UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter. The Black Hawk was on static display and on departure, did a few passes to the delight of the crowd.
Dan Marcotte would take to the skies to show off his flying skills and give the audience his version of “pushing it to the limit” in his Ultimate 10-200 Biplane. Paul Dougherty was up next. Relatively new to the air show circuit, Paul gave a fantastic routine with the stock Christen Eagle. Scott Francis, a Virginia native, took off in his gorgeous blue MXS. His performance truly tests the skills of the most seasoned photographer. The speed of the aircraft coupled with the violent rolls the aircraft can perform, it is hard to keep the aircraft within the confines of the lens. Torque rolls, hammerheads, loops, four-point rolls were just a few maneuvers Scott flew in his heart-pounding performance.
After Scott landed, the sound of radial filled the air again as the mighty Corsair (bent wing bird) took to the sky. Imagine the thought process of young Marines fighting in the Pacific, during WWII, when they heard the sound of a Corsair flying overhead. The bent wing bird would be joined by the B-25 “Briefing Time”. The two aircraft performed multiple passes showing the top and bottom of the aircraft. During one pass, “Briefing Time” opened the bomb bay doors just as it would if it were flying 30 seconds over Tokyo. The pair of aircraft would close the show with a photo pass. This popular pass brings aircraft close for the crowd to get a detailed look at the top side of the gorgeous warbirds.
As the veteran aircraft parked, the curtain fell on the 46th edition of the Festival of Flight. This event has grown with each passing year. While some major shows have been declining in popularity, New Garden has consistently been able to improve and guaranteeing return spectators. If you’re looking for a great show that has that hometown feel, you definitely MUST put this annual event on your list.
Air Museum Network is truly grateful to all the volunteers that ensured that the Media was fed and hydrated on this very hot day. To the entire New Garden team and Mr. Jon Martin, thank you for putting together a fantastic event.
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