If you can get to North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Illinois this summer, you’ll have a chance to drink in some mighty nice antique aircraft and hang out with the folks who fly them. The American Barnstormers Old-Fashioned Tour
is making its every-other-year appearance in August. Weather permitting, you’ll see 14 aircraft and their costumed pilots, and even purchase a ride.
The airplanes will swoop into five cities this year. Pilot and PR coordinator Sarah Wilson says the tour has been scaled back just a bit from previous years (when it debuted in 2006, there were 15 biplanes and they toured nine cities).
“We just weren’t sure we could do it this year,” she says. Pilots come from all over the nation–in airplanes that average speeds 100 mph or less–to form the tour. But the “core group”–those pilots who have participated from the beginning–said, “Please, let’s do another one,” Wilson says. The pilots will remain three days at each stop, giving them more time between legs.
Here’s the schedule:
- Aug. 9-11: Fargo Air Museum at Hector International Airport, Fargo, North Dakota
- Aug. 12-14: Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, Brainerd, Minn.
- Aug. 16-18: Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, Eau Claire, Wis.
- Aug. 19-21: Manitowoc County Airport, Manitowoc, Wis.
- Aug. 23-26: De Kalb Taylor Municipal Airport, De Kalb, Ill.
New to the tour this year are Wilson’s 1929 Stearman Model 4E; a 1937 Waco YKS-7, and a Curtiss Pusher.
My colleagues Al Marsh and Mike Fizer joined the group for their inaugural tour in 2006. (You can see the article, video, and photos here.) Al recalls without the least bit of nostalgia the heat wave that ensnared Michigan that July. With temps reaching 105, he wondered how the tour pilots handled it in their heavy costumes.
Still. Flying with biplane pilots on a tour of the heartland? Steven Tyler, you can keep your Rock ‘n’ Roll fantasy camp. This one’s more my speed.