By Hayman Tam
Thirty thousand people were expected to attend the 18th Pacific Coast Dream Machines show held in April at Half Moon Bay Airport. The skies were blue and the weather mild, a perfect setting to see airplanes.
Not an air show, this event is a celebration of all things mechanical. A vast array of machines are brought in and demonstrated for spectators milling about the airport grounds. From a wood-burning “steam” roller to high-tech Segways, there was something for everyone to admire. Hundreds of cars also drove in for display.
All the aircraft were clustered at the north end of the field, with the tall tail of a U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 marking the center of the static display. A variety of planes was on display, warbirds and civilian alike.
Some were rare, like the two-place Air & Space 18 gyroplane flown in from Palo Alto, Calif., one of only 68 built. It demonstrated its jump takeoff technique when it left later in the day. Other planes, like a P-51 Mustang, had enough visitors to fill their own static area.
A replica of the 1934 de Havilland DH-88 Comet racer was also on display. Its striking color and sleek lines make it a classic among historical aircraft. The original Comet gained fame by winning the MacRobertson Air Race from England to Australia.
The B-25J Heavenly Body had long lines of guests waiting to tour its interior. An HC-130 was also popular with those wanting to enter the tail ramp for a look around.
The Hiller Aviation Museum brought its DC-3, which taxied past the crowd into its parking spot and performed a crowd-pleasing engine run-up before shutting down and setting up the display. The Hiller Museum also provided the smallest plane seen at the show, a BD-5.
Because this wasn’t an air show, no pilots had scheduled performances or aerobatics displays. That didn’t stop several pilots from doing low flybys of the airfield after takeoff. Famed Half Moon Bay resident Eddie Andreini took to the sky several times in his various aircraft, to conduct such flybys, some in formation with other warbirds.
Later in the day, the EAA-operated B-17 Aluminum Overcast made a surprise low flyby. Many spectators remained until the end of the event, to watch the long line of visiting planes taxi by and depart.
Local microbreweries and plenty of food booths were on hand to fuel the crowds. Proceeds from the show help fund the Coastside Adult Day Health Center.
Half Moon Bay Airport is located on the coast, about 20 miles south of San Francisco. Originally built for the U.S. Army in 1942, San Mateo County acquired it in 1947.