MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – The American Barnstormers Tour, a nostalgic salute to the barnstormers who ventured across America during the 1920s seeking fame and fortune in their biplanes, is scheduled to visit North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois on their fourth biannual tour this summer. As many as 14 meticulously restored vintage aircraft from the 1920s and 1930s will journey through the Midwest on a five-city tour from August 9-26, 2012:
August 9-11 – Fargo Air Museum, Fargo International Airport (KFAR), Fargo, North Dakota.
August 12-14 – Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (KBRD), Brainerd, Minn.
August 16-18 – Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (KEAU), Eau Claire, Wis.
August 19-21 – Manitowoc County Airport (KMTW), Manitowoc, Wis.
August 23-26 – Dekalb Taylor Municipal Airport (KDKB), Dekalb, Ill.
Tour aircraft will be on display from approximately 10 am to 6 pm, weather permitting, and admission is free!
The American Barnstormers Tour was born under the wing of an antique Travel Air biplane on a grass airfield in Iowa. In the company of friends and vintage biplane pilots, plans were formed to resurrect the barnstorming tours of the 1920s, where many local citizens would see their first airplane up close, or perhaps spend a few dollars for their first flight. Tour organizers Clay Adams and Sarah Wilson saw an opportunity to give visitors from all backgrounds a unique vantage point to connect the past with the present. The first American Barnstormers Tour lifted off in 2006 with 17 airplanes from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and traveled throughout five states to end at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
“The response was tremendous; it reinforced our belief that people were still excited to see these beautiful aircraft and take their first biplane ride,” said Wilson.
In 2008, the tour flew westward into America’s Heartland and grew to 19 aircraft and 45 crewmembers. Organizers estimate that more than 20,000 people saw the tour in 2010, and they nearly doubled the number of biplane rides given.
A select group of aircraft and highly skilled aviators are chosen for each tour based on the uniqueness of their ships and their commitment to promoting vintage aviation. All barnstormers participate in recreating the era with period costumes, aircraft signage, historical information, and vintage props. They are aviation ambassadors and love to share the stories and personal history of their aircraft with anyone who will listen.
At each location, the aircraft will take to the skies for a “Barnstormers Parade of Flight” with master of ceremonies, EAA radio on-air personality, Jeff Montgomery.
“Our tour gives people from all over the country the chance to travel back in time and experience the same sights, sounds, and excitement they would have felt some 80 years ago as they looked out across the fields and saw the barnstormers on the horizon,” said tour organizer, Clay Adams.
The period between the end of World War I and the United States’ entry into World War II is remembered as “The Golden Age of Aviation,” and it truly was. Barnstorming tours, trophy races, and record-setting flights all captured the public’s attention as they raced to see the daring flocks of birdman, and take their first flight in an open cockpit biplane.
An airline captain by profession, but a barnstormer at heart, Clay Adams would have preferred to have been born a half century earlier and the original owner of his 1929 Travel Air, flying during the Golden Age of Aviation.
One of only a handful of women to teach flying in vintage biplanes, Sarah Wilson truly is a modern-day barnstormer, giving instruction in a 1940s Stearman for Waldo Wrights Flying Service at “Fantasy of Flight” in Polk City, Florida in the winter, and traveling with the American Barnstormers Flying Circus in the summer. With almost two decades of experience in both the aviation and hospitality industries, Wilson is one of those rare pilots who loves to teach for the shear joy of watching her students soar with their new-found skill and knowledge.
For more information on the American Barnstormers Tour, go to www.americanbarnstormerstour.com, or call Sarah Wilson at 863-286-4103.