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Culpepper Air Fest Gave DC Area Avgeeks Many Reasons To Smile

The 19th annual Culpeper Air Fest provided a day of entertainment for the assembled crowd. Located just ninety minutes from either Washington D.C. or Richmond, the location is an easy drive. The show is the City of Culpeper’s largest event, and is free to attend, plus offers free parking with bus service from local high schools.

Held at the Culpeper Regional Airport, the field boosts a 5,000 foot runway that can accommodate light jets and larger twin engine propeller aircraft. Also located at the airport is the Capital Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. This explains the good turnout of warbirds at the show, plus the chance to go on a warbird ride for a price.

The airport also lies within the area where the Civil War’s largest cavalry battle took place, that being the Battle of Brandy Station. This site and other nearby battlefields offer the history buff additional attractions to visit.

The weather cooperated as the solid overcast started to breakup when the Air Fest started at noon. The crowd had much more a sense of community with maybe 4,000 in attendance, as compared to tens of thousands at larger shows. The show started off with a parachute drop featuring the flag and the singing of our national anthem.

The Grumman TBM Avenger battled with the replica Japanese Aichi “Val”. This performance accompanied by a pyrotechnics display which was a first for the show. Various vintage trainers, liaison, and spotter aircraft flew throughout the day. The C-47 “Placid Lassie” was a special treat, as she is the only flyable Dakota that actually took part in the D-Day drops of June 6, 1944.

Several stunning acrobatic demonstrations were carried out by several powered aircraft. Though for myself, the most interesting flight of the day was performed by Manfred Radius in his aerobatic rated sailplane. His skill in maximizing the energy management capabilities of his Salto glider was both graceful and fascinating.

The show featured a couple of fast movers, those being the Czech built L-39 and the only privately owned British Sea Harrier. Both aircraft are owned by Art Nalls, who showed off the unique capabilities of each plane. Hopefully next year he will have his other Harrier, a two seat model, flying at the show.

The Culpeper Air Fest is truly a unique air show. With its location at a relatively small airport, it gives the audience a closer view of these stunning aircraft as compared to shows at larger airports or air bases. It also has a fairly large and varied collection of aircraft taking part. So if you are within driving distance of Culpeper next fall, I highly recommend attending this show.

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Randy Jennings

Written by Randy Jennings

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