GENESEO - Weather may slow, but it won’t stop, the final day of the National Warplane Museum’s air show, known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
Performances, featuring vintage warbirds and aerial acrobats, are scheduled through 4 p.m. at the Geneseo airfield, 3489 Big Tree Lane.
“Even with rain, it’s important the public to know that they will see a show,” says Todd Cameron, one of the show’s air bosses – a “ringmaster,” if you will – who coordinates all things during the air show.
The forecast calls for improving conditions as the day progress. The greatest chance of showers is before 11 a.m., with clouds slowly thinning from west to east throughout the day. The afternoon is expected to be mostly sunny with a high near 76 degrees, with comfortable dewpoints in the 50s and 60s, according to the National Weather Service.
“Rain is just one more adjustment we have to make,” Cameron says.
Hours before the scheduled start of this morning’s performances, the airfield cool temperatures left the airfield shrouded in a misty fog - adding to its period ambiance, but grounding most scheduled pre-show flights.
Pilots did what they could to prepare their planes. Those with open cockpits were closed with canvas covers.
Mike Maniatis of Milton was wiping down his 1928 Gipsy Moth, which he had acquired about a year ago. The propeller-driven bi-plane was staged on the flight line with several other bi-planes.
Maniatis had finished a little restoration of the plane and wanted to bring it to the air show, which he has regularly attended, to show off the rare bird.
“This plane belongs in a museum. There’s not that many left,” he says. “These airplanes set a lot of distance, altitude and speed records back in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe. This plane is like the father of general aviation.”
Maniatis was uncertain if he would be flying today - wind, in addition to rain, can be a factor for the smaller planes.
But many of the aerial performers have prepared two types of shows, says Cameron, himself a pilot of corporate jets.
Pilots will have a “low” show and a “high” show depending on conditions.
Weather will likely cause adjustments to the performance schedule, which was being determined this morning – but can change on the fly if conditions require it.
For example, a MiG-17 jet fighter coming in from the Rochester airport had to flip-flop with another aircraft its scheduled practice session on Friday to avoid rain showers, which were intermittent, even heavy at times from late morning to mid-afternoon.
“The MiG-17 travels at 500 mph. Even a little drop of rain would strip paint from the fuselage,” Cameron says.
When the weather clears and the sun comes out, that is when these planes shine.
Rays of sun forced their way through the clouds high above the Geneseo airfield on Friday afternoon, shining down on a line of three P-51 Mustang fighter jets in the northwest corner of the airfield. The sun gleaming off the planes’ brilliant silver fuselages acted as a beacon for visitors.
“It’s the greatest airplane ever built,” said Andrew McKenna, the owner and pilot of the P-51. “It’s the plane every airplane wants to be when it grows up.”
McKenna’s plane, which is unnamed, was slotted between air show regular “Quicksilver” and “Mad Max.”
McKenna has owned the P-51 for about three years. He choose to keep it “factory fresh” with a striking, and highly-reflective aluminum fuselage. During the war, the plane would likely have been delivered into service with a green matte finish.
“The factory fresh look and style is what I fell in love with when I bought the plane,” McKenna said.
The pilot, who also has a T6 plane, has been to the Geneseo air show five times.
“It’s a fun one,” he says. “You get up close with the crowd. It’s personal, and the grass field is fantastic. It’s great for families and the people here are really fun.”
Stephen Hoare of Reading, Pa., comes to the air show regularly.
“I enjoy talking with the pilots and looking at their airplanes,” says Hoare, who flew B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War.
Hoare said he particularly likes to see the World War II aircraft and learn their history.
McKenna, for one, enjoys talking about his plane’s legacy.
“Everyone wants to talk about the plane, they don’t care where I’m from,” says McKenna, who for the record is a landscaper from Arlington, Va.
“Getting to do things like this,” he says, “and getting to share the plane is really what it’s all about.”
Original article can be found here: http://www.thedailynewsonline.com