EASTON — Beautiful weather and beautiful airplanes made for a memorable day for hundreds of people packing the tarmac and surrounding fields Saturday, Sept. 21, at Newnam Field for Easton Airport Day.
Aerophiles were out in full force. Last year’s airport day was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, and for those who thrill at getting up close and personal with a P-51 Mustang, it had been too long.
Speaking of P-51s, there were at least two of those classic World War II fighter-bombers to watch. One, the North American Aviation P-51D Tiger’s Revenge lit up the sky as it performed for the crowd aloft and on the ground.
There also was a shiny silver P-51 Rosalie owned by Dayna Rickards and piloted by her husband, Ezra Rickards, both of Georgetown.
Rickards shot landings as the crowd oohed and awed, then taxied to the side of the runway, where he was visited by a steady stream of gawkers, some even talking him into letting them try out the cockpit.
Other stars of the show included a Beechcraft Model 18 and Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor, both vintage multiple seat passenger planes. They made passes over the runway, turning this way and that, the pilots wing-waving for the cameras.
On the ground there were plenty of stars, too. An A-10C, The Warthog, made in 1979, attracted a lot of admirers. The Warthog has seen quite a bit of action, including Desert Storm and missions into Afghanistan.
Probably one of the most remarkable things about airport day is the wide variety of ages in the crowd.
World War II veterans in their 90s look at the planes, reminiscing about their times in Europe or the Pacific; small children bounce up and down at the chance to get in a cockpit and see the instrument panel. Then there’s everybody in between.
During the opening ceremonies, the Federal Aviation Administration recognized James Graeme “Gray” Lang Jr. with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award.
During the early days of Easton Airport in the 1970s, Lang ran an airline out of the original terminal building. At the age of 83, he still flies. His plane is a twin-engine P-Barron.
This year, the airport day committee made an effort to focus on the Easton Airport’s new Aviation Career Education program that introduces students to careers in aviation.
An F-104 Starfighter Jet was the place for free “in the cockpit” pictures all day long, courtesy of the Massey Air Museum, although the jet spends most of its time at the Easton airport.
Some recognized the Starfighter as the wayward plane that impaled Santa’s sleigh in a holiday display on the property of Tom Blair on St. Michaels Road almost a decade ago. Blair owned the plane and later sold it to the Massey museum.
Other planes from Blair’s collection were front and center during Easton Airport Day, including an Aero L-39 Albatros and 1943 Vickers-Armstrong Supermarine Spitfire.
And, familiar to us all, the Maryland State medivac helicopter Trooper Six was camped out at the end of the runway, its doors thrown open so all could see the emergency treatment and patient transfer facility inside.
About noon, warbirds, classic military craft and others lined up on the runway and took off toward Caroline County.
After a few minutes, they returned in a mass formation flyover and gave off white smoke in a rare display for the crowd.
There also was a “rubber chicken drop” competition in which planes tried to drop a rubber chicken in a flatbed truck on the field. The planes included Yaks, RVs and T-6s.
Trident Aircraft offered plane rides early in the day. The Chesapeake Classic Car Club displayed dozens of historic and vintage vehicles on the lawns of the airport, joined by Prestige Auto Vault, Next Level Auto and the Classic Motor Museum of St. Michaels.
Food and beverages were available for purchase from Easton Ruritan Club, the airport’s Sugar Buns Cafe and the Trappe Volunteer Fire Company.
Easton Airport Day is a component fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.
There were more than 27 local businesses that helped sponsor the day, which helped cover the cost of the event and raise funds for local needs.