Flying Circus takes off

While the American Barnstormers Tour has concluded, many of the barnstormers are now participating in the Flying Circus at various events through the country, including the Wausau Balloon and BBQ Festival. Stearman pilot Sarah Wilson, who blogged about the tour for, continues her Barnstormers Blog with what’s going on with the Flying Circus:

Each time the Flying Circus is due at an event, I get a text from Gayle Harrigan, the wife of one of the New Standard D25 pilot/owners Bernie Harrigan, when they are en route. Gayle simply writes: “Leaving our family now to return to our loved ones.” It is a perfect description of how we feel when we fly rides with our core group of friends and fellow pilots that make up the American Barnstormers Flying Circus. Two New Standards, a Travel Air, and my Stearman, along with their pilots and families, travel together until fall all across the Midwest.

Compared to the tour, this is like being on autopilot for us. We know each other’s flying, we treat each other’s planes as our own, and we genuinely can’t think of anyone else we would rather work or play with.

Due to open the Wausau Balloon and BBQ Festival at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 8, right on cue, Clay “Pork Chop” Adams turns into downwind in the Travel Air at 4:50 p.m. In sync, Ted and Kim walk across the ramp with a cooler full of fresh cheese brought from Brodhead towards the tent. The Stearman, New Standard, and Travel Air are parked at the corner of the ramp ready for the show to begin and, on cue, we are all in our places right on time. It will be slow until Saturday, but we actually don’t mind. We fly a little, joke a lot, eat BBQ and watch the balloons inflate right next to our tent. It’s beautiful and cool and, long after the music stops and the crowds leave, we sit in our tent drinking and laughing until the mosquitoes chase us out.

Upcoming stops for the barnstormers include:

  • Stephenson County Fair (FEP, Freeport, Ill., July 13-18;
  • Airventure (OSH), Oshkosh, Wis., July 26-31;
  • Dekalb CornFest (DKB), Dekalb, Ill., Aug. 20-22; and
  • National Stearman Fly-in (GBG), Galesburg, Ill., Sept. 6-12.

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