The Geneseo Airshow always draws a huge crowd from all over the country, sometimes beyond. Pilots, military reenactors, veterans, history buffs, and people who just plain like a day out in the sun flock to the National Warplanes Museum every year to walk among historic airplanes and watch them fly. I have enjoyed many Geneseo airshows on and off in my teens, but until last weekend, I had never gone as a reporter.
Really digging in and talking to folks around me confirmed what I only guessed at before, that what pulls families back again and again to this show is not only the rip and roar of big engines, nor the dizzying maneuvers of stunt fliers. It is a chance for generations to experience, together and up close, powerful, dangerous machines doing what they do best. Some performers, like Andrew and Eric Boyd of Ontario, Canada, are themselves passing down family traditions of show flying. With a somber nod and quiet talks with youngsters, everyone remembers that despite their grace and charm on these sunny afternoons, many of these planes were at one time a last defense against total annihilation and death.
Everyone I met appreciates the chance to actually approach and touch the planes, especially with their children. It’s one thing to see the Blue Angels rip across the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from a thousand yards away, or watch a P-38 Lightning buzz through a few tight turns and disappear over the horizon, but quite another to walk right up to the blindingly shiny P-51 Mustang affectionately called “Quicksilver” between her aerobatics routines, run a hand over her thick, glossy wing and grab a photo with the pilot. This is why grandparents continue to bring youngsters out to Geneseo from as far away as Buffalo or Ontario, even Oregon in one case, to share with them the aircraft that embody the life and times that are so hard to explain to a ten-year-old.
The airshows are always underscored by military heritage ceremonies and demonstrations, including pyrotechnic bombing-run reenactments, but this year’s show in particular paid extra homage to World War II veterans and aircraft. This year is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy in 1944. The Warplanes Museum is fortunate enough to own a fully functional C-47 cargo plane dubbed “Whiskey-7” that dropped paratroopers over Western France on D-Day, so long ago. Whiskey-7’s imposing presence on the field reminded everyone of the deep influence of WWII, even so many years later, and the willingness of new generations to preserve their military heritage.
Enjoy some photos taken throughout the pre-show and airshow. It was a thrill to be there, and I’ll definitely be back year after year.
If the photos won’t scroll through smoothly, just click on the current image to pause the slideshow and click through at your leisure.