Travel > Flying Circus May 2013
Gray Fox Images Portfolio Michael W Masters
info@grayfoximages.com

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The Flying Circus Air Show at Bealeton VA is one of the best around.  According to the announcer, over half the wing walkers in the country appear at this show.  The show runs from May through October every Sunday at 2:30 PM and lasts for about an hour and a half.  Many of the aircraft that appear are Stearman biplanes, a type of aircraft used during WWII as trainers and since as crop dusters and show aircraft.

The show opens with a sky diver arriving carrying an American flag, and the performance is great for kids and adults alike.  The action is constant, with several themes, including a brief appearance by a WWI flying "Baron", a balloon popping competition by the aircraft, the disrobing of a fair maiden by a low flying aircraft, and a sky mail pickup by a military Piper aircraft.  There is also an aerobatic performance and a final flyover by a trio of biplanes.

Perhaps one of the saddest aspects of this visit was the aerobatic performance, not for the performance itself but rather for what it foreshadowed in retrospect.  The pilot was Charlie Schwenker, and at one point he flew his Pitts Special Aerobatics craft very close to the ground.  Although most in the crowd probably thought the low pass was part of the show, the announcer was audibly shaken by the event and took a few sentences to recover his upbeat line of patter in describing the performance.  The close call proved to be prophetic, as Schwenker tragically crashed at the Vectren Dayton Air Show in Ohio a few weeks later with wing walker Jane Wicker on board.

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