Warbirds Over The Beach 2019
On May 18th and 19th, The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA held their annual Warbirds Over The Beach Airshow. If you love Warbirds, this is a special place. A private air force resides here thanks to Mr. Jerry Yagen. His commitment to preservation and education has grown the museum and the flying artifacts. Every year there is a new aircraft, building or display on site. Jerry’s newest warbird is a P-39 Airacobra fresh out of the crate from New Zealand. Work was in progress putting it together during the airshow.
When you enter the ramp area on Airshow weekend, you will see over ten Warbirds parked at the edge of the grass ready to fly. The runway here at Virginia Beach Airport (42VA) is a turf strip. This adds to the charm of a World War II event. They also typically have a World War I Airshow in the Fall. In years past, weather has been a factor and there is no flying off a turf strip if it is soft.
This year, the weather could not have been better and the crowds came to a festive event. Inside one of the hangars, multiple musical performers entertained and big band music played. The reenactor area seems to grow every year too. In the morning, aircraft rides are conducted and any transient or visiting aircraft will arrive. The actual airshow begins at 1pm. A Hangar Dance would take place after the airshow and carry into the night.
For the photographer, the sun moves from left to right and directly over Runway 11/29. I would swear that it moved in a semi circle but that is heliographically impossible (Wink! Big word). The high sun creates a backlit condition for the flying but the treeline aids in shielding the light. One change for this year was that the aircraft flew in front of the crowdline rather than an orbit to airshow right. They were a bit high in the sky but maybe the FAA will lower the minimums for next year.
The airshow began with a departure of four T-6 Texans who performed formation flybys leading up to the National Anthem. The flag was presented by a small group of reenactors. The group of pilots for the museum fly multiple airframes so the sequence of flights depends on the schedule of the pilots. The first sequence are Liaison aircraft like the Stinson L-5 and Piper Super Cub and transports like a rare visiting Beech AT-11, a Junkers JU-52, and the enormous winged PBY-5A Catalina.
A DeHavilland Chipmunk and Tiger Moth flew as well as a Messerschmitt 108. Then the airshow started to get into the strong fighters and bombers of the Navy. A Grumman FM-2 Wildcat and an FG-1 Corsair launched followed by the visiting Grumman TBM Avenger “Doris Mae” and the Museum’s Douglas AD-4 Skyraider. The crowdline is fairly close to the turf strip so the power of these takeoffs can be heard and felt. When they return to the ramp, the wings are folded prior to parking.
The next sequence is the air war in Europe. The B-25 “Wild Cargo” launched and was joined by the P-51D Mustang “Double Trouble Two”. Later, the P-40 Warhawk joined up with the Mustang. The British fighters launched next with a Spitfire and a Hurricane. Normally, the DeHavilland Mosquito would fly here but she had an engine problem. The final grouping was the German fighters. A Focke Wulf 190 and a Messerschmitt BF-109 launched and flew together and a single Russian Yak 3 flew in this group.
At some point, the ME-262 replica jet fighter would have flown with one of the groups but it also had a mechanical problem and was scrubbed for the show.
Judging from the crowd size, I am hoping that the Museum raised a lot of money to keep those Warbirds flying. I look forward to my next trip down there. Maybe as soon as June 15th for their Flying Proms Event. (Photo from Friday, before the weekend shows ed.)
My thanks to the Museum volunteers who park cars, collect tickets, direct patrons and ensure their safety.
Here is a link to the Museum’s web site: https://militaryaviationmuseum.org/