By Terry Stephens
After a two-year absence, the Cascade Warbirds returned to the Northwest Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In and Sport Aviation Conference at Arlington Municipal Airport (AWO), providing flyovers, air show performances and an array of historic aircraft displays. More than 50,000 people attended the show, which ran from July 11-15. The fly-in is the Pacific Northwest’s largest aviation event, and the nation’s third largest air show.
The Cascade Warbirds conducted a mass launch of planes at the weekend air shows. Afterwards, air show star Bud Granley and his son Ross performed their spectacular Yak-18 and Yak-55 dual rolls, loops and head-on, low-level approaches. The heavier, two-seat Yak-55 kept perfect pace with the lighter Yak-18.
The Arlington-based Black Jack Squadron also performed a variety of aerobatic displays and formation flights with 16 Van’s kit planes. The Red Eagles performed “Magic in the Air,” a spectacular blending of low-level solos, flat spins, torque rolls and formation flying, with two rare swept-wing biplanes. Another highlight was a biplane aerobatic performance by Eric Tucker, son of famed air show pilot Sean D. Tucker.
The Cascade Warbirds’ restored military planes from the World War II, Korea and Vietnam eras formed a grand parade along the taxiway, accompanied by a column of restored military combat vehicles. The parade ended on the west side of the fly-in at encampments displaying an array of vintage warbirds, along with American and Canadian military vehicles and equipment.
This year’s displays, honoring military veterans, featured a large presence by the Puget Sound Military Vehicle Collectors Club. More than 80 vehicles were on display, including jeeps, scout cars, half-tracks, large trucks, mechanical mules, ambulances, a tank and anti-tank cannons. A mobile military history museum presented collections of pistols, rifles, machineguns, mortars, rocket launchers and other wartime memorabilia.
Shuttle buses took visitors across the airfield to hangars where Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection has been housed for the past three years. A guided tour of exhibits included finely restored aircraft such as a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, North American P-51 Mustang, Curtiss P-40C Warhawk, Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire and Curtiss JN-4D Jenny.
This was the last year Allen’s collection would be open to visitors during the fly-in. Allen is moving his collection to a renovated hangar at Paine Field (PAE) for the opening of the 2008 tour season next spring. Other aircraft in the Flying Heritage Collection include a Focke-Wulf FW 190A-5, Goodyear FG-1D Corsair, Messerschmitt Me-262A and a Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Allen still expects to bring planes to the NWEAA Fly-In each year, according to Barbara Tolbert, executive director of the event.
Inscribed bricks were again sold this year for the planned $2 million Sport Pilot Mall. The facility will house sport plane displays, classrooms for fly-in presentations and new offices for the fly-in staff.