Legends at Geneseo 2010

Relatively few Canadian pilots were in the Pacific Theatre during the Second World War. Among them was Vintage Wings' own Lieutenant Hugh “Moe” Pawson who flew Corsairs from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.  Here we see him with the FG-1D Corsair known as “SKYBOSS” flown by Dan Dameo.

As reliable as Canada geese migrating, every year on a weekend of July, the aviation community heads for the little town of Geneseo, New York, home of the 1941 Historical Air Group (HAG).  The Group was established in 1994 by local aviation enthusiasts and its primary goal is to commemorate the aircraft and aviators of the past with a focus on Second World War aviation. The principal means to achieve this is to put on the now-famous warbird air show held on the grass turf strip at the Geneseo airport, known far and wide as the “Greatest Show on Turf”.

This year’s show featured a wide selection of aircraft such as the First World War replica biplane fighters of the Great War Museum of Brampton, Ontario.  Every year the Brampton flyers put on a great show with their Nieuport 28, SE-5As, Sopwipt Strutter, and Fokker DR-1s. From Tilsonburg, Ontario, the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association is always in attendance at Geneseo and again the formation known as the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team put on a spectacular aerial display in the beautiful blue sky of the Geneseo Valley.

Part of the collection of aircraft from the Great War Flying Museum of Brampton, Ontario, this Fokker Dr.1 replica, wearing the markings of Leutnant Paul Bäumer (nicknamed “the Iron Eagle” with 43 victories), brings early military aviation history to life.

Every year, he 1941 Historical Aircraft Museum's air show brings together a spectacular line-up of fighter aircraft to rival any warbird event in North America. This year was no acception with the presence of four P-51 Mustangs including a rare C-model owned by the Commemorative Air Force.  The three other P-51D Mustangs that flew during the weekend included of Mark Murphy‘s newly restored: Never Miss”, Chris Baranaska’s splendid “Glamarous Gal” and the other CAF Mustang known as “Red Nose”, which flew with the RCAF reserves.

The former Canadian P-51D Mustang Red Nose flown by John “Skipper” Hyle over Geneseo.

Mustangs on the Prowl  the CAF's Red Nose and Red Tail in formation over Geneseo's bucolic landscape.

This aircraft was dropped from the USAF inventory and transferred to Canada under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. It was officially accepted by the RCAF on January 11, 1951, and was placed in storage in Trenton, Ontario. A month later, on February 26th, this aircraft was once again flying, now with 416 "Lynx" Squadron (regular) of the RCAF.  It served with this regular unit for little more than a year before being transferred to No. 10 Technical Services Unit in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 28 March 28, 1952. Here it stayed until assigned to 420 Squadron, the  "Snowy Owls" (auxiliary) of the RCAF in London, Ontario. Its tenure with this unit lasted until July 19th 1956, when the aircraft was listed as awaiting disposal and placed into storage. In 1957, Mr. Lloyd P. Nolen bought the aircraft with three friends for $2,500. This signified the unofficial start of the Confederate Air Force (the predecessor of the more politically  correct Commemorative Air Force and the incredible fleet this organization operates today.

Naval aviation was represented by several carrier based warbirds – the  American Airpower Museum‘s,  Goodyear FG-1 flown by Dan Dameo. the CAF’s Douglas SBD Dauntless and Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Tim Buck’s Grumman TBM Avenger, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Fairey Firefly and Sandy Thompson’s always present Hawker Sea Fury.

Geneseo is one of few places that will allow you to take sunset photos - the results are always beautiful. This is David Tinker’s TBM Avenger.

Bomber history was well represented again this year with the American Airpower Museum’s rare North American B-25D  Mitchell “Miss Hap”, (painted as the personnel VIP plane of General Hap Arnold during the Second World War), Tom Duffy’s B-25J “Take Off Time” and the Hollywood star Boeing B-17 Memphis Belle. The green Geneseo turf was full of classic trainers  such as Tiger Moths , a Chipmunk,  the HAG’s C-45, Tom Huff’s Cessna Crane, Fleet 16 and the beautiful DH 89A Dragon Rapide from Jerry Yagen’s Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA.

Jerry Yagen brought his immaculate de Havilland Dragon Rapide to Geneseo. The classic twin-engine de Havilland still carries its original Royal Marines paint scheme and British registration. The beauty is part of the collection of Yagen's Military Aviation Museum which hosts an annual spring air show known as Warbirds over the Beach in late May.

The long line of North American Harvard, SNJ and AT-6 aircraft was also very impressive, as well as the usual large gathering of Stearmans. Military transport aircraft were also present this year including the HAG’ s C-47 and C-45, the “L”-birds and CWHM’s rare Westland Lysander. The show also featured several aerobatic performances including Kevin Russo’s NA SNJ, The Boyds’ Pitts Special Team from Smith Falls, Ontario, the perennially elegant Manfred Radius in his glider,  and more. Approved military demos rounded out the show, including an impressive F-16 Viper performance and a C-130 Hercules staging from another airfield.

The newly restored Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Westland Lysander was one of the highlights of the 2010 airshow. Exceedingly rare and displayed in a striking yellow and black “Oxydol” paint scheme of a BCATP target tug aircraft, the STOL bird is seen here doing a low speed pass.

The History of Flight 2010 edition was again a great success and Geneseo is a must for all aviation enthusiasts and photography buffs. With its grass runway and bucolic setting, this place is pure aviation magic.  So mark your calendar for this year’s edition of the “Greatest Show on Turf”, July 9-11 For more details please check out their website: http://www.1941hag.org


Michel Côté and Pierre Lapprand

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