Warbirds Take to the Tennessee Skies
If you spend much time around airplanes, they’ll get in your blood. The smell of jet fuel, the throaty growl of a 400hp Pratt & Whitney radial engine, a Piper Cub chugging across a cloudless blue sky.
You know you’re hooked when the sound of an engine bursting into life, propeller blades whirring, is as intoxicating as the smell of newly mown grass on a summer’s evening.
This coming weekend the skies over Sumner County Regional Airport (M33) in Gallatin will reverberate with WWII and Korean War era planes at the annual Warbird Fly-In. You may find it impossible to resist gazing heavenward as they fly low and fast, giving you the opportunity to relive the days of fighter aces and heavy bombers that fought in the Pacific and the European Theater, or over the jungles of Korea. These big, bold aircraft were flown by heroic young pilots and crew in their early twenties, on combat missions against daunting odds. Many never made it home.
Gallatin Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1343 is hosting the Warbird Fly-In on Saturday, May 18, 9am-4pm and the event is free to the public. Bring along the whole family for a day of food, fun, and classic rock music by the Von Skow Band.
Watch formation flying by Yaks and fly-bys of Stearmans, L-19s and a collection of immaculately restored Warbirds such as the P-51 Mustang and F4-U Corsair. Activities will include ‘missing man’ formation flight by the Ridge Runner Flight Team of T-34s, fire department and EMS displays, and the reenactment of a ground bunker attack.
Inside the airport FBO terminal is a permanent aviation art exhibit of over 40 airplane sketches by artist, aviator, adventurer and Hendersonville, Tennessee native, Bill W. Fergusson. Penned during the 1930’s and ’40’s while in high school and serving in the USAAC and USAAF, his sketches map the evolution of early single engine aircraft through military trainers, fighters and bombers.
Training first as a WWII fighter pilot, Bill’s career took him all over the world as stunt pilot for the TV series Sky King, national and regional sales manager and demonstration pilot for major aircraft manufacturers and distributors, and recreational glider pilot. Make sure you leave your comments in the visitor’s book at the exhibit.
The EAA, an international membership organization that encourages all forms of recreational aviation, is best known for the world’s largest airshow held over 10 days every year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Young Eagles is a special program designed to introduce young people to the thrill of flying. You can sign up your children aged 8 to 17 for regularly planned Young Eagles days at local EAA Chapters like Gallatin and Lebanon. Volunteer EAA pilots donate their airplanes and time to give free flights to Young Eagles, who are then presented with a certificate. Many pilots have personally flown several thousand, and to date, more than 1.9 million Young Eagles have taken flight in 90 countries.
So what’s the next step after that? Sign on for flight training or stop in any Sunday afternoon for one of the regular cookouts at the airport FBO and meet other flying enthusiasts. The 6300ft runway and lowest fuel prices in the area attract many visiting pilots and corporate jets. The Gallatin EAA Chapter meets the second Tuesday evening of each month, and is open to anyone interested in aviation.
EAA Chapter 1343 and GTO Aviation are hosting the second annual Steam Plant Fly-In and Expo Saturday, June 22 at Sumner County Regional Airport (M33). This all-day event, 8 a.m. -4 p.m., will feature food, live music, displays, vendors, educational sessions and lots of airplanes.
If you’ve never been to a Fly-In Breakfast, this is the way to feed your passion literally. Attracting over 100 people and dozens of airplanes, the Gallatin EAA Chapter hosts a Fly-In Breakfast (or Drive-In for those without wings) at the airport the second Saturday of every month. This is also open to the public. You’re guaranteed to hear some good stories, enjoy a delicious breakfast, and see an amazing collection of airplanes including ultralights and homebuilts. You may even talk someone into taking you for a flight!
Do you have a favorite Warbird? We’d love to hear your personal stories!