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Photo Essay: World War II Birds At Reading

READING, PA – Hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, this year’s 28th World War II Weekend airshow proved a success even with the forecast of inclement weather.
Held at the Reading Regional Airport, the show is the premiere East Coast airshow to focus solely on the era of the Second World War. While unfortunately a few aircraft, such as the F4U Corsair and P-63 Kingcobra had to cancel on account of weather, participating warbirds made for a wonderful time.

At the top of the ticket were the world’s only two airworthy B-29s, Fifi and Doc. Fifi preformed for the crowd both days of the show, while Doc was on static display. There were a couple of B-17 Flying Fortresses and four B-25 Mitchells that took part in aerial demonstrations or were parked on the flight line. Fighters took to the air with formation flights by a P-51 Mustang and a P-40 Tomahawk, while Greg Shelton beat up the field with an impressive demonstration with his FM-2 Wildcat. U.S. Navy TBM Avenger and SBD Dauntless once again battled with replica Japanese Kate and Val bombers.

The show also offers the unique opportunity for everyone to purchase rides in these historic warbirds. Such rides last thirty to forty minutes or so, including taxing and waiting clearance for takeoff. Operating and maintaining these aircraft are not a cheap endeavor. Original parts are of course increasingly scarce, while many parts are newly made at a steep price. The proceeds, from selling these rides, go towards keeping these historic aircraft flying. This way the people and organizations who keep these planes flying can continue showcasing these wonderful warbirds for the enjoyment and education of current and future generations.

Less than perfect weather impacted the weekend’s flying. Flight operations were briefly stopped, as rain showers hit the field. The low cloud cover forced some acrobatics to be throttled back for safety reasons. While the parachute drop, by the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team, had to be scrubbed, again because of the low ceiling. Still the weather did not overly affect the show’s program nor the overall enjoyment of the crowd.

In addition to the warbird activities, there was a large contingent of WWII reenactors representing: American, British, French, Chinese, Japanese and German soldiers and civilians. Besides educating the crowd about the life during the war, the reenactors also staged a mock battle between American and German forces. Once again the intrepid American G.I.s defeated the Germans. The Marines staged the planting of the American flag on Iwo Jima. This is the only airshow, which I know of, where one can see Sherman tanks drive down the apron amongst warbirds on static display.
Reenacting was not limited to martial displays, but also extended to what civilian life was like during the war. Live performances of music as well as acts by “Abbott and Costello” could be enjoyed live on stage. Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt also made an appearance to show allied strength and unity.

Next year’s airshow is already set for June 7, 8 and 9. So plan ahead and put it on your 2019 airshow schedule. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

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Randy Jennings

Written by Randy Jennings

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