The Greatest Show on Turf, Geneseo 2019

Cover Photo

I call her Genny. The National Warplane Museum held their 39th annual airshow, “The Greatest Show on Turf” in Geneseo, New York on July 13th and 14th. This is also an annual event for me as I grew up 65 miles west of here. This show is unlike any other I attend because I camp onsite and immerse myself in day and night events. Many of the volunteers are now personal friends.

Speaking of volunteers, included in this is the website manager and updates were a little behind real time. One event conducted every year is the missing man tribute which requires 4 fighters but only two were listed. I thought this might be a light year for the show. Upon arrival, another P-51 Mustang and a Corsair were present on the ground along with some other aircraft not listed on the site originally. The weather was looking good for the weekend and Warbird fans had a lot to be excited about.

My 2019 airshow experience began on Friday morning. I took a 10AM ride on the Museum’s B-17, “The Movie Memphis Belle.” I wish the sky was brighter but I had a fun time on the ride as we flew over the countryside and Conesus Lake before returning to Genny.

After lunch, I had my very first opportunity for air-to-air photography with the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team and also got a visit from a private T-6 Texan over the lake. By dinner time, the clouds had broken up and there were some sunset photo opportunities.

On Saturday morning, the sun was bright for an airshow perfect day. Weather is an important factor for a turf strip. Aircraft were already moving for paying customers on “The Movie Memphis Belle”, the Museum’s flagship and D-Day veteran C-47, “Whiskey 7”, and Thom Richard kept busy in his two-seat TP-40 Warhawk, “American Dream”. These rides continued up to the airshow waiver and would continue after the show.

The first aircraft to fly in the airshow was the Beech Staggerwing in Royal Navy markings. That was followed by the light aircraft like the DeHavilland Tiger Moth and Chipmunk, Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs, a North American Navion and a Piper Cub.

The 75th Anniversary of D-Day was recongnized by three C-47s and the Liberty Jump Team. Participating aircraft were “W-7”, “Second Chance” and “Luck of the Irish”. I read that “Luck of the Irish” blew an engine and has been stranded at Genny pending a replacement. A fundraising page has been established to help them get her back in the air.

Every little bit helps. A fourth C-47, “Virginia Ann” was in attendance and relocated from a parking area to the hot ramp but did not fly in this routine on Saturday.

As noon approaches, Patriot Rider motorcyclists and vintage military vehicles drive by to the center point of the airshow for the National Anthem, a patriotic thank you to Veterans and honoring the fallen. The four fighters, TP-40 “American Dream”, P-51D “Swamp Fox”, TF-51 “Mad Max” and FG-1D Corsair “Godspeed” fly over during the National Anthem and execute the missing man formation. Afterward, “Swamp Fox” and “Mad Max” performed formation flybys.

Next up was the trainer flight with a number of T-6 Texans, a Vultee BT-13 and a Nanchang CJ-6. Greg Koontz performed an aerobatic routine in his red Bellanca Super Decathlon. We would see him later in the day with the Alabama Boys act flying the yellow Piper Cub. A group of Stearmans then took over the airspace.

The Pacific flight launched featuring the Corsair, a TBM Avenger, T-6 “Zero” and “Val” replicas and the Warhawk. Thom Richard would fly a solo routine afterward.

The next performer is out of place but an element that Genny has had often in the past. The United States Air Force A-10 Demonstration Team based out of Rochester International Airport to perform a short distance away at Geneseo. Members of the team were spotted after the show taking rides in World War II era aircraft and enjoying that Genny experience I speak of.

Manfred Radius in his Sailplane and Rick Volker in his Sukhoi 26 aerobatic aircraft performed and have been regulars at Genny for many years. They were followed by the Alabama Boys and an aerobatic demonstration by P-51 “Swamp Fox”.

The finale was listed as the Bomber Flight with fighter escort but no fighters were in the air. “The Movie Memphis Belle”, B-25s “Champaign Gal” and “Miss Hap” flew circuits of about 3 passes each as the airshow concluded. Sunday’s weather was almost the same although I got on the road for home early.

I wish to thank my friends at The National Warplane Museum and airshow management for the jobs they do and the courtesy’s extended to me and for another excellent year at Genny. Next year will be a momentous 40th Anniversary of the Greatest Show on Turf.

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