By SPARKY BARNES SARGENT
Though the weather was sizzling hot in Iowa during Labor Day weekend, hundreds of aviators, friends, and families enthusiastically made the annual pilgrimage “Back to Blakesburg.”
The Antique Airplane Association had its genesis in 1953, when founder Robert Taylor placed a classified ad in Flying. The first annual fly-in was held in 1954 at Ottumwa; the first fly-in at the Taylor family’s privately-owned airfield was in 1971. (The event has been held at other locations throughout the years, but the majority of the fly-ins have been held at Antique Airfield.)
The AAA’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee celebration attracted 398 airplanes — the highest number since the fly-in was shortened from a 10-day event in the 1970s and 1980s to a five-day event.
Several of the antique aircraft that attended the first fly-ins were flown to this year’s fly-in, including a the Pietenpol (1954), Fleet 1 (1955), Ryan SCW (1958), Waco UIC (1957), Waco D (1964), and a Puss Moth (which represented the one that attended in 1956).
The 75th anniversary of the Luscombe model 8 was also celebrated during the event, which was apropos, considering that Don Luscombe was an Iowa native. This year, a precision count by Steve Butler revealed that 68.5 Luscombes were present. “The half Luscombe,” explains AAA Executive Director Brent Taylor, “is due to Nathan Rounds hauling in a set of Luscombe wings for Toby Hanson’s Luscombe project. Toby is one of our great volunteers from Minnesota.”
An official USPS commemorative Air Mail flight, complete with specially-designed 60th Anniversary flight covers, was flown between Antique Airfield, Ottumwa, and Oskaloosa on Friday.
On Saturday, the 10th anniversary of the 2003 National Air Tour (NAT) was celebrated by a reunion supper for the NAT pilots. Eight of the NAT aircraft were on the field: The Travel Air 6000, Alexander Eaglerock, Waco UEC, Stinson Tri-motor, Fairchild FC-2-W2, Bird CK, and two Travel Air 4000s.
As if all these anniversaries weren’t enough, yet another one was recognized with a model airplane race: The 80th anniversary of the radio program, “The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen.”
There was at least one more notable and happy event during the AAA-APM’s invitational fly-in. A wedding was held in the field of flying machines! David Mars and Anne Rowles of Mississippi were married Friday evening right beside his Piper PA-18 Super Cub, dubbed the “Honeymoon Special.” It is the fourth time that a couple has wed at Antique Airfield.