Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2018 issue
GRANITE FALLS, MINN. – The Ray Fagen Memorial Airshow, the Greatest Generation Celebration, was held June 16, 2018 at the Lenzen-Roe-Fagen Memorial Airport in Granite Falls, Minnesota – home of Fagen Fighters WWII Museum. Record-setting crowds attended despite the 95-degree heat and high humidity. World War II veterans were honored guests of the event. World War II pilots included Triple Ace C.E.”Bud” Anderson; Navy Hellcat Ace Don McPherson; B-17 pilot, Charles “Chuck” Childs; and P-38 pilot, Jim Tyler, who recalled experiences from World War II and took questions from the audience.
The president of EAA Warbirds, Connie Bowlin, helped narrate the program on the ground.
A farm girl from North Carolina, Bowlin grew up with parents who believed in hard work and encouraged her to pursue her dreams, which she did. Introduced to flying while in college, it was not until she met her husband, Ed, that the opportunity to fly became a reality. With Ed as her mentor, offering encouragement and support, Bowlin realized her dream of becoming a pilot while working as a flight attendant. In 1978, Bowlin became the fourth female pilot hired by Delta Air Lines.
Flying warbirds has been Bowlin’s passion. She is type rated in the P-51, B-17, and C-47, and the founder of EAA’s “Warbirds In Review,” held each year during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (www.AviationAutographs.com).
The Bowlins were inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in 2009.
Reenactors, ground vehicles, and World War II battlefield camps were featured at the Fagen airshow. Only War War II-era aircraft were on the field and involved in the airshow.
The show featured the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team flying T-6 trainers, Greg Shelton flying a Boeing Stearman biplane with wingwalker, Ashley Shelton; and Matt Younkin flying a Beech 18.
Guest warbirds included a B-13 from Nebraska, two Corsairs, a TBM Avenger, six T-6s, the P-51 Mustangs “Gunfighter,” “Old Crow,” and “Petie 2nd;” and an L-5 and L-2. The Fagen Fighters warbirds included the B-25 “Paper Doll,” P-51 “Sweet Revenge;” P-51 “Twilight Tear;” P-40 “Desert Shark,” P-40 “Aleutian Tiger.” A Wildcat, BT-13, PT-26 and PT-22 also performed.
Country music legend, Jamey Johnson, entertained the crowd with a concert after the daytime airshow, followed by a night airshow featuring the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, Greg and Ashley Shelton, and Matt Younkin.
Organizers say that the next airshow will be held in 2021!