Saturday at the Culpeper Regional Airport, families can connect with the dedicated heroism of their relatives who were among “The Greatest Generation,” as they explore and experience WWII aircraft that played a critical role in the Allied Victory. The Aug. 13 event is hosted by Capital Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.
Dubbed “Bikes, Wings, and Wheels,” the exhibit will also feature antique autos, hot rods and modern, exotic and imported cars, as well as choppers and touring and sports, that folks have brought in hopes of qualifying for one of the trophies awarded at the event.
The aircraft that will be on the grounds may include a North American T-6, which provided pilots training with a hands-on experience of flight; a North American T28, another trainer used in the 1950s; and a British Percival Provost, a trainer used by the Royal Air Force. Capital Wing members will be on-site to answer any questions and point out key features of the planes.
In addition, while reservations are available, guests can take advantage of the opportunity to actually experience a flight in one of the WWII “warbirds.” On Saturday, a Boeing Stearman open-cockpit bi-plane will be flying. Tickets for the flights can be purchased at CapitalWingWarbirdRides.org for $210 or $295, depending on the length of the flight.
Activities that are free and open to the public include a memorable “Wing Walk” on a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, where guests can get a close look into the cockpit of the largest and heaviest single-engine bomber of WWII. They are welcome to take a selfie as a keepsake or to share the experience with family members and friends.
Visitors will also have an opportunity to engage with WWII reenactors, who will be milling with the crowd and setting up an encampment with tents and military equipment that was used during WWII.
Live music by BleuGene Gentry will add to the energy and excitement throughout the day, and food trucks by Experimental Aircraft Association 186 Chapter, Tacos VIP and Funnel Cake Cafe will be available. In addition, a 50-50 raffle will be held to benefit Cruisin’ for Heroes, a nonprofit that serves veterans and their families.
Pete Ballard, a member of Capital Wing, CAF, is coordinating the warbird rides and has flown planes throughout his life. He has an authentic appreciation for the vital roles that fighters, bombers and transport planes played in securing the Allies’ victory in WWII.
“Our mission is to keep these rare and unique aircraft flying, as a tribute to the thousands of men and women who built, serviced and flew them,” he said. “For us in the 21st century, where we rely on computers for almost everything, it is amazing to realize these warbirds were designed with pencil and paper, using slide rules! This event is an excellent way for families to connect with history in a way they would otherwise not experience.”