Toughkenemon, PA — On August 20-21, the 45th annual Festival of Flight was held at the New Garden Airfield in Toughkenemon Pennsylvania. Air Museum Network was present for the two day family fun filled event.
Being essentially an air show, the classic cars have become an integral part of the festivities. The eclectic blend of vintage aircraft and cars with a dash of old military vehicles, gives this event a broad flavor. Organizers made sure that there was plenty on hand for all tastes and likes. The adventurous could purchase a ride in a helicopter or ride in a monster truck. A local band was enlisted to provide the venue a contemporary soundtrack which would appeal to the younger crowd. To add to the vintage ambiance, The Ultimate Abbot and Costello Tribute show (Bill Riley and Joe Ziegler) warmed the crowd with their comedy show.
On the aviation front, spectators could admire the 6 SNJ/T-6s, a hand full of L-Birds and PTs while they sat on the ground and eventually in the air. As has been traditions for some years, the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s B-25 “Briefing Time” would be last to fly. This year the Mitchell would be accompanied by a T-28 A Trojan. Car lovers were able to see Dan Marcotte scream down the runway in his Jet car.
The aerobatic portion of the show fell on the shoulders of Kevin Russo in his SNJ, Greg Koontz with his flying farmer routine (and Decathlon Aerobatic), Dan Marcotte Pitts Aerobatic 1, Scott Francis in his MXS and Jason Flood flying fast and furious in his Pitts S1S.
Notably absent from this year’s event was local pilot Matt Chapman (due to sponsor commitments) and Mark Murphy and his P-51D “Never Miss” (due to mechanical issues).To calm any worries, Greg Shelton in his FM2 Wildcat made sure every spectator got their fill.
The big addition to the Festival of Flight was the Rock & Roll the Runway 5K run (held early on the second day). Runners and walkers of all ages showed up and put forth a valiant effort in support of youth organizations in New Garden and Kennett Square. Based on the turn out, Organizers are sure to repeat the 5K run for years to come.
As much planning and preparation as an event of this nature requires, weather can change everything. In the afternoon of the second day, a storm front moved into the area. An attempt was made to get birds in the air, and as Kevin Russo finished his routine, the rain began to fall. Die Hard Spectators huddled inside the hanger or under the B-25 Mitchell Bomber.
There were several attempts to restart the show, but due to steady rain, the decision was made to call it a day. A lot of hard work went into making the Festival of Flight a reality. So to end on this note would be bitter sweet. Instead we focus on the positives. Air Museum Network had the opportunity to cover “Thunder over Michigan” but chose to travel to New Garden. In an era of corporate events, it is a breath of fresh air to attend a family, community, grassroots, old fashion event. The Festival of Flight is in a league of its own. Proving that these community shows are far from gone.
As they stood drenched in the rain, the small army of volunteers, under the command of Airport Manager Jon Martin, could smile with their heads held high knowing they gave it their all.
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