High-flying fun: American Barnstormers Tour lands in Alexandria
The American Barnstormers Tour, a nostalgic salute to the barnstormers who ventured across America during the 1920s seeking fame and fortune in their biplanes, is scheduled to visit Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota - including Alexandria - on their third biannual tour this summer.
Twenty meticulously restored vintage aircraft from the 1920s and 1930s will journey through the northern Great Plains states on a seven-city tour from June 17 through July 5.
Admission is free.
The aircraft are expected to be at Chandler Field at the Alexandria Airport Saturday, July 3 through Monday, July 5.
Each day, the aircraft will take to the skies for the "Barnstormers Parade of Flight" with master of ceremonies, EAA Radio on-air personality Jeff Montgomery. Montgomery will entertain the crowd with his unique announcing style while they hear tall tales of barnstorming and learn the history of each biplane as the pilots fly overhead.
The aircraft will be on display each day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - weather permitting.
Spectators can even experience the thrill of an open cockpit flight for themselves and go barnstorming in a beautifully restored Travel Air, New Standard or Stearman vintage biplane. Biplane rides will be available daily; weather permitting. The cost is $60 per passenger. The cost for Stearman "hands-on flights" is $200 per person.
All barnstormers will participate in recreating the era with period costumes, aircraft signs, historical information and vintage props.
"These aren't airplanes, they're time machines," said tour organizer, Clay Adams. "Our tour gives people from all over the country the chance to travel back in time and experience the same sights, sounds and excitement they would have felt some 80 years ago as they looked out across the fields and saw the barnstormers on the horizon."
The period between the end of World War I and the United States' entry into World War II is remembered as "The Golden Age of Aviation," and it truly was. Barnstorming tours, trophy races and record-setting flights all captured the public's attention as they raced to see the daring flocks of birdmen, and take their first flight in an open cockpit airplane.
The American Barnstormers Tour was born under the wing of an antique Travel Air biplane on a grass airfield in Iowa. In the company of friends and vintage biplane pilots, plans were formed to resurrect the barnstorming tours of the 1920s, where many local citizens would see their first airplane up close, or perhaps spend a few dollars for their first flight.
Adams and Sarah Wilson, tour organizers, saw an opportunity to give visitors from all backgrounds a unique vantage point to connect the past with the present.
What started as just a dream has blossomed into a real barnstorming revival, they said.
For more information, visit the American Barnstormers website at www.americanbarnstormerstour.com.