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Barnstorming!

Historic Fliers Land at Pioneer Airport

Ted Davis takes off in his 1941 New Standard.
Ted Davis takes off in his 1941 New Standard.

American Barnstorming Tour members pose for a group photo by their airplanes
Bruce McElhoe's 1929 Travel Air 4D is surrounded by other airplanes on the ramp at Pioneer Airport.

Bruce McElhoe's 1929 Travel Air 4D is surrounded by other airplanes on the ramp at Pioneer Airport.
American Barnstorming Tour members pose for a group photo by their airplanes at high noon Wednesday at EAA's Pioneer Airport.

August 22, 2012 - EAA's Pioneer Airport in Oshkosh never looked better late Wednesday morning as 12 golden age airplanes from the American Barnstormers Tour made a special pilgrimage stop on the turf runway in Oshkosh. Five Travel Airs, two Fairchilds, two Wacos, a Stinson, a New Standard, and a Monocoupe flew to Oshkosh on the tour's day off - coming from last weekend's visit to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and headed for Brodhead, Wisconsin, before resuming the tour this weekend in DeKalb, Illinois.

Shortly after 11 a.m., a few dozen onlookers watched - and listened - as the mostly round-engined classics flew a large circuit around the field, then made final turns from the west to Runway 31. A moderate crosswind did not hinder the successive landings, started by Hank Galpin and Dennis Guentzel in their 1928 Travel Air 6000, NC9038. Following in order were a 1929 Waco ATO, NC8565; a 1929 Travel Air 4D, NC689K, flown by Bruce McElhoe; a 1930 Monocoupe 90A, N15427, Mark Lightsey; a 1930 Waco ATO, N663N, Josh Brownell; a 1929 Travel Air 4000, NC397M, Clay Adams; a 1941 New Standard (the youngest of the bunch), NC9119, Ted Davis; a 1929 Travel Air 4000, NC379M, David Mars; a 1929 Travel Air 4000, N455N, Gary Lust; a 1931 Stinson Jr-S, NC10886, Jim Hammond; a 1935 Fairchild F-22, NC14768, Steve Roth; and a 1932 Fairchild 22, NC3166, Chad Willie.

Clay Adams, of Rosemont, Minnesota, and tour founder, was elated to be at Pioneer Airport. "We had a real nice ride across the lake (Winnebago)," he said. Adams explained that tour member and publicity staffer Sara Wilson proposed the idea for the somewhat impromptu visit when discussing possible destinations between tour stop locations. "Why not Pioneer Airport? What a great idea!" Adams said.

Not only was Pioneer the perfect setting for airplanes like this, but it also provided a wonderful backdrop for the tour photo, including all the planes and tour members. After all the airplanes were safely on the ground and maneuvered into place, EAA snapped several photos from aboard a lift truck to get the perfect angle.

Adams founded the tour in 2006 and it has since taken place every two years. The tour usually involves 14-19 aircraft including substitute planes and makes anywhere from five to nine stops. Paid flights are available at the official stops (not at Pioneer Wednesday), which are often held as a part of other events - such as the case this weekend at the popular DeKalb Corn Fest in Illinois. With only a handful of events left, more than 4,000 passengers have already received flights.

Participating planes come from all over the nation: California, Mississippi, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Montana, Florida, and Wisconsin. Many of the pilots are also A&Ps, some with inspection authority, so any mechanical issues are able to be solved.

The tour has also added Clinton, Iowa, to the tour before concluding at Blakesburg, Iowa, August 30-September 2 at Antique Airfield for the AAA Fly-In.

"We've have a great group of people who have a great love of aircraft like this, and are great sticks," said Adams, a 28,000-hour airline pilot who has flown in more than 100 types.

When he was a child, Adams would go to the airport and be able to see airplanes and meet pilots without a chain-link barrier. Kids today have no chance to do that. The tour seeks to try and rejuvenate interest in aircraft, he said.

After displaying their airplanes on the Pioneer ramp for several hours, Barnstormer pilots received the departure briefing, then climbed back into the airplanes and took off as fast as they had landed - this time heading southwest to Brodhead for some downtime, oil changes, and preparations for DeKalb this weekend.

Adams thanked tour sponsors Phillips 66, Concord Aircraft Batteries, and Kimmel Aviation Insurance Corp. for making the American Barnstormers Tour possible.

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