BLAINE, MINN. – Air shows may be experiencing difficult times due in large part by the absence of military jets, but fly-ins and open houses like “Discover Aviation Days” at Anoka County-Blaine Airport in the Twin Cities, June 1-2, 2013, are doing well.
The event is very diversified, from a fly-in breakfast, to warbird and vintage aircraft displays, educational forums, airplane rides, autograph signing by aviation celebrities, and the 13th annual hangar dance featuring Dave Andrew’s Big Band – a 14-member 1940s swing orchestra – amidst Greg Herrick’s vintage aircraft in the Golden Wings Museum.
Local star “Miss Mitchell” – the B-25 Mitchell Bomber of the Commemorative Air Force based at nearby Fleming Field in South St. Paul, always steals the show. The aircraft flew 130 missions in North Africa and Italy during World War II without a single casualty. While there were no aerobatic performances, there were flyovers, including one by a squadron of World War II T-6 Texans.
World War II veterans Wayne G. Johnson, a “Flying Tiger” from Beaver Bay, Minnesota; aircraft mechanic Owen Mobley of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin; and Women Airforce Service Pilot Betty Strohfus of Faribault, Minnesota, were on hand to sign autographs and share their experiences at the event’s new “Aviation Center.” Astronaut Curt Brown was one of several featured speakers in the education tent. In a special program, Brown described his six flights to space since he became an astronaut 1988, and his participation in the Jet and Unlimited classes at the National Air Races in Reno, Nevada. Pilot safety seminars were conducted by the Minneapolis FAA Flight Standards District Office and FAAST Team volunteers.
Admission to Discover Aviation Days was free, but parking donations were eagerly accepted and helped to defray expenses of the event.