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ISSUE 132 - August 2010
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The Greatest Show on Turf - Part I

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Roslin, Ontario, Canada

The 1941 Historic Air Group B-17 "Memphis Belle" movie aircraft sits on the grass as the sun rises on a hot, humid morning, left. The C-47, covered in morning dew will soon be surrounded by numerous aircraft, right.

One of the most beautiful locations from which to shoot airplanes from is Geneseo, New York during their airshow, known as "The Greatest Show on Turf." Sitting in the 'bowl' of a beautiful green upstate New York valley, this grass airstrip makes for a beautiful place from which to fly.

The "Memphis Belle" movie version B-17 as the sun rises over Geneseo.

The field is home to the 1941 Historical Air Group who operate and crew airplanes such as the movie version of the "Memphis Belle" B-17 and C-47. These wonderful old multi-engine aircraft can be seen flying in various US States for airshows, and even a few trips are made to Canada such as "Friendly Foes Above the Falls" in 2009 and the Waterloo Aviation Expo & Airshow 2010 (both usually held in June)."

The Commemorative Air Force P-51 Mustang, left, and Curtiss Helldiver, right.

The all grass field and runways make it a prime spot for photographing airplanes. There are no ropes or barriers preventing spectators and photographers alike from walking right up to the static airplanes for a closer look, even the show performers are accessible before the airshow begins. In some cases, airplane crews such as those from the Commemorative (formerly Confederate) Air Force and the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, are on hand and more than happy to stand and talk to you for as long as you want about 'their' airplanes and organizations. Whether you love airplanes, you love flying, or you love the history, it's a great place to spend a day or a weekend.

The banner towed by a beautiful Stearman biplane to open the
airshow while the US and Canadian anthems were played.

Opening the airshow was a banner pick up by a beautiful stearman with both the anthems of the United States and Canada playing while the airplane flew the banner that said "Welcome to the Geneseo Airshow" in a wide circuit above the airfield.

The Great War Flying Museum from Brampton, Ontario flew four of their airplanes in the show. The SE5A breaks away from the Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, left, as the Fokker Triplane approaches for attack, right.

There were many visiting aircraft both flying and static from World War I fighters such as the SE5A and two Fokker Triplanes, as well as the Sopwith 1 and a 1/2 strutter, all flown down from Brampton, Ontario for the show. These airplanes spend about 10 minutes performing a mock dogfight in the skies above Geneseo with the eventual outcome resulting in the 'shooting' down of both of the Fokker Triplanes.

The F-16 performed several loud and fast flypasts during its performance.

A faster and louder show is put on by a visiting F-16 which seemed to be the most popular of all the airplanes. The F-16 captured the crowd's attention with the pilot performing a multitude of very loud passes, including a vertical climb to 15,000' feet and the final 'banana,' high speed pass. A flame some 20' feet in length screaming out the back of the jet seemed to be what the crowds were after and a great cheer went up with the passes where the flame was most visible.

"Red Tail" P-51C Mustang in front of one of the hangars at Geneseo, left.
The Tuskegee Airmen "Red Tail" in a nice high speed pass, right.

Another great attraction was a performance by a freshly rebuilt P-51C of the Tuskegee Airmen fame, known as "Red Tail." The airplane was put through its paces with an aerobatic performance that saw the pilot do several passes and rolls. "Red Tail" also joined 3 other P-51's to perform the "missing man" formation pass, with "Red Tail" as the missing man, climbing up out of the formation honouring all veterans.

Canadian Warplane Heritage 22+ year restoration Lysander, left,
and their Fairey Firefly, right.

Two other firsts for the airshow were a visit from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Lysander, built by the National Steel Car Company (Victory Aircraft) in Malton, Ontario in 1942. The "Lizzie," as she is affectionately known, was lovingly restored over more than 22 years by many volunteers. Painted in Royal Canadian Navy markings, CWH's Fairey Firefly was also at the show for the first time and performed several passes with the deep, throaty growl of the Rolls-Royce engine pulling the huge propeller and airframe through the air.

Dropping in on the show was this stunning and rare example
of a De Havilland Dragon Rapide.

Though not participating in the airshow, during a bit of a lull in the flying, a very rare De Havilland Dragon Rapide flew in and landed. This beautiful old biplane, still wearing the UK registration G-ADDD and sporting new leather on the cabin seats, is a stunning example of one of the most beautiful DH biplanes ever built. Parked on the grass near the flightline, one was taken back to a time when flying was still 'seat of the pants,' feet on rudder pedals, hand on controls and throttle and the pilot actually flew the airplane through the entire flight. Those were the days!

Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association 7 plane formation pass, left,
and Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team performing their show, right.

The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA) and the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team (CHAT) performed several 7 ship flypasts in various formations before the CHAT boys split off for their aerobatic performance. The airplanes they fly, Canadian built Harvard aircraft, flew with the BCATP (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan) training thousands of airmen during World War II. In the United States, the airplane is known as the T-6 Texan or the Naval version known as the SNJ Navy.

Next week we'll return to Geneseo to see the remainder of the airshow.

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer

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