Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Festival of Flight Hearkens to an Earlier Time Festival of Flight Hearkens to an Earlier Time

If you are one of those people who have their head in the clouds or a gaze fixed upon the heavens, the New Garden Festival of Flight Air and Car Show is the weekend getaway for you. Now in its 40th year, the air show features aerobatic performances, demonstrations that hearken back to a time of pin-up models, victory gardens and WWII bombers.

“You will see some of the best pilots in the world doing all kinds of things planes and gliders are not supposed to do,” said Jon Martin, Airport Manager. In addition to the air show, the event will showcase “the kind of classic cars that will make you itch to drive them,” he added.

Opening ceremonies will be held at midday on Saturday, June 11, and the air/car show will continue on Sunday, from noon to 5pm, at the New Garden Airport in Toughkehamon, Chester County, which is just south and west of Longwood Gardens.

The show will start with the usual nationalistic pomp and circumstance of singing the National Anthem and raising a flag, but, of course, at the air show they have to do it a little differently. The Cecil County Parachute Team will do a flag jump to show off the colors of Old Glory.

If you thought flag jumping was fun, wait until you see Jane Wicker walking the wings of a 450 HP Stearman in her untethered debut performance at New Garden. Wicker’s style is reminiscent of the barnstormers of the 1920s and '30s, whose daring and often reckless acrobatics on the wings of planes won them fame but sometimes ended in tragedy.

Other aerial displays will include the flights of Dan Dameo piloting the P-40 Warhawk, Matt Chapman in the CAP 580, Kevin Russo in the SNJ-6, a presentation by CAF Dixie Wing’s P-51D Mustang and stunt flying by Jason Flood in a Pitts S1S.

The highlight of the show will be the flight of the P-51 Mustang, a single flyer plane characterized by a snarling, jagged-toothed bird painted on its nose. One of the great "war birds," the P-51 Mustang is credited with helping the Allies win WWII.

On Saturday only, the USAF B-2A Spirit Stealth Bomber will make an appearance at the air show, reaching speeds of up to 630 miles per hour.

The B-2 Spirit bomber, which will perform fly-bys, has been in the service of the United States Air Force since 1997 and has seen action in numerous military campaigns, including Operation Iraqi Freedom.

With so many aerobatic feats of flying mastery performed during this two-day event it will be hard to divert one’s attention from the sky, but there will be plenty to do on the ground as well.

“It’s not just airplanes,” Martin said of the New Garden show. “It’s as much a craft and vendor fair as an air show. Plus we have our classic car show, which grows bigger every year.”

In addition to displays and demonstrations, there will be a raffle for rides on the PT-19 as well as other aircraft. The Manhattan Dolls, a 1940s-styled singing trio, will take you on a sentimental journey back in time to the music of the World War II era and Armed Forces Radio on both Saturday and Sunday. To keep the kids busy, there will be toy vendors, a moon bounce, entertaining games and a mini RC race track.

With plenty of food vendors, no one will go hungry at the airshow.

“We have everything from Bruster’s ice cream and funnel cakes to seafood and the best barbecue you’ll ever have,” Martin said.

While getting your chow on, you might want to catch Bill Reidy and Joe Ziegler’s transformation into Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The accomplished impressionists will perform Abbott and Costello's famous vaudeville routine, "Who's on First?" at the New Garden show.

Adult single day admission to the show is $16, admission for children six to 12 years old is $7, and children 5 and under will be admitted free. Weekend passes are available at a cost of $27 for adults and $11 for children.

"It’s very much a family event," Martin said.

If you plan on staying nearby for the weekend, there is a charming and comfortable bed and breakfast along Route 1 that might fit your needs.

The Pennsbury Inn in Chadds Ford is decorated in the style of an 18th century American home, and offers guests seven bedrooms--each with private bath--from which to choose.

Rooms are $155 to $255 per night, depending on the amenities of the room. Some rooms are true suites, and include a living room, a fireplace, a library or a music room. The procrastinator's special at the Pennsbury Inn is a 10 percent discount off any open room booked within 24 hours on a weekend, and a 20 percent discount off a room booked within 24 hours during the week.

According to innkeepers Cheryl and Chip Grono, as well as their official canine greeter, Teddy, “comfort is (the inn's) specialty.”

During their stay, guests can relax and enjoy incredible gardens featuring koi ponds, reflecting pools and hammocks. All guest rooms feature a full or shower bath, cable TV, desks, Wi-Fi Internet access and comfortable reading chairs.

Breakfast, of course, is included with the room. Cheryl Grono has been praised for the attention to detail evident in her home cooking, which has been known to make guests feel extra special. The inn's Full Country Breakfast includes seasonal fresh fruit, waffles, egg dishes and fruity pancakes.

Situated on eight acres of land, there are plenty of woodland trails around the inn on which to get in a run before the air show. For those less inclined to commit to strenuous exercise during a weekend getaway, the reflecting pool offers a great place in which to sit and think about how crazy Jane Wicker is for doing acrobatics on a moving plane.

Located near the inn are several wineries, including Chadds Ford, Twin Brook, Kreutz Creak, Stargazers, Penns Wood, Paradox and Walnut Winery. A pass to visit them costs $20 per person and includes a glass.

The Pennsbury Inn is just a 15 minute drive from the New Garden Festival of Flight Air and Car Show. So, while your head may be in the clouds for part of the day, you will have the opportunity to become grounded at the relaxing bed and breakfast the rest of the time.

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