Sarah Wilson, who is participating in the American Barnstormers Tour, files this report from Mason City Airport, Iowa:
The first day we open a tour is always interesting; so many factors play into whether we draw a crowd or not. We like to start on a midweek day so as to ease our crew of 51 barnstormers into how this all is going to operate and work the bugs out before we get busy. Thursday’s opening at Mason City was as expeccted, slow enough for a relaxed set up, but the winds gusting up to mid 30s caused a cancellation of the parade of flight and a challege to all the biplane ride pilots. A squall line came through late afternoon and had the planes taxiing to the hangars and the crew to Doug Rozendaal’s hangar party by 5 p.m.
All the advance work done by the airport, local tourism agenies, and media coverage amount to nothing if the locals look up and see black skies and hear storm warnings on the news. Friday’s weather didn’t stop us from flying but it did stop us from getting the attendence we anticipated. It’s funny…crowds, no crowds, everyone is just happy to be together and, while we love to have a great turnout, a slow day leaves more time for practical jokes and fun on the ramp.
Tiger Morton, a scooter for the New Standard, describes it perfectly: “It’s like we throw a big party every two years just for us, invite everyone, but still have a blast if nobody else shows.” We flew till dark Friday night as the skies cleared late in the day and folks started wandering out to the airport that evening.
Saturday was BUSY…really busy. The biplane ride haulers were booked out for two hours by noon and my Stearman had sold out all slots by 2 p.m. The Parade of Flight was flawless and Speed Hornbeck and Jummy Hammond’s routine in the Waco ASO and Stinson was perfection. They even recruited the local police and got them to supply their vintage cop car to use as the pady wagon to speed “Speed” away in as the finale for their aerial “Keystone Cops” routine that opens the parade. Great day with thousands on the ramp. Tired and dirty, we arrived in the hotel parking lot about dusk after fueling and loading for our morning move. I looked up and saw “Scooter” in the New Standard doing one final ride. Lucky folks…last flight of the night is always the best.
For more information: AmericanBarnstormersTour.com