Stearman pilot Sarah Wilson, who is participating in the American Barnstormers Tour, files this report from the tour’s last stop at Chandler Field Airport (AXN) in Alexandria, Minn.:
The wind followed us to Alexandria, but the lakes and the lush green countryside more than made up for it. Wind was such a big part of this year’s tour — it stalked us everywhere — but finally in Alexandria on the 4th of July it left us alone and we celebrated. We flew all day — everyday!
The airport was beautiful, the crowds were big, two Parades of Flight on the holiday gave all the Barnstormers a chance to untie and enjoy the calm air. The barnstormers even stopped referring to their daily flyovers as the Parade of “Fright” and began calling it by its real name again. The Bleriot even flew early one morning.
Alexandria delivered a great finale for the 2010 tour and it was bittersweet as we all gathered at the local pub for our final group dinner and to say our goodbyes. Some we’ll see at Brodhead or Blakesburg but not all — never again will this exact group be together as we were crossing the Great Plains. Everyone safe, all planes and pilots intact, we scatter in all directions as quickly as we had joined up in Mason City. One controller asked me as we departed their airport one morning, “When will the barnstormers be coming back?” I replied, “Sorry darling, the barnstormers never come back.” That’s part of the magic.
So early Tuesday morning the New Standard and I loaded up and moved on to Wausau, Wis., to hop rides for the Balloon and BBQ festival starting in two days. We landed at Wausau and drove the planes straight into the hangar and pilots straight to the hotel to catch up on some sleep, repack and get ready to do it all over again!
For more information: AmericanBarnstormersTour.com