By Jonathan Apfelbaum
￼Spring time in Colorado — when thoughts turn to shaking off the winter’s snow and getting back into flying after the chilly winter. Years ago there had been a Classic Car and Aircraft Fly-in at Front Range Airport (KFTG), although it had gradually languished and faded away.
As the airport has been on the growth upswing over the last few years, the airport manager and regional members felt it was time to bring this event back.
With the large warbird community along the front range, it was decided to make the new event a Warbird and Classic Car Fly- in. Last year was the inaugural year, with this year being a strong follow up.
Brothers Ron and Rick Douglas, longtime promoters of PITRally automotive races and events, coordinated the automotive half of things.
Dennis Koontz, a retired captain from Frontier Airlines (the original Frontier, as he is quick to point out), coordinated the aircraft.
The response from the regional warbird community was enthusiastic, he noted.
After all the planning, Mother Nature almost scuttled the event — the weather was more Seattle than Denver, with lots of rain over the days leading up to the event. However, the weather god’s smiled and Saturday, May 28, brought sunny clear skies.
P-51s were well represented with three immaculately restored and maintained mustangs.
“‘Stang Evil” in her Colorado Air National Guard colors was a nice counterpoint to the 84th Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group “Frances Dell.” The “Frances Dell” came out of an extensive rebuild at Midwest Aero Restoration last year and to say it is gorgeous and better than new is an understatement.
Perennial local favorite “Crusader” made it, with her stable mate, one of the few replica NA-50s in existence.
Dan Dunning’s 300-horsepower PT-13 “Sweet Pea,” with its elaborate nose art, wasn’t the only Stearman, but attracted most of the interest.
Several T-28s towered over the ramp. AT-6s and SNJs (depending on your branch of the military), a Pilatus PC-7, a Fouga Magistrar and a Yak 52 rounded out the trainers.
Don Watkins’ L-5 and a Navion L-17 B represented the liaison aircraft.
Not to be left out, a handful of vintage aircraft also were able to join the flight line. John Penney (of Rare Bear fame) brought out his immaculately restored Fairchild 24. Joining it on the flightline were a Beech Staggerwing, Cessna 195, and the only airworthy PJC-2.
Airshow pilot (and O-1 bird dog combat veteran) Don Nelson shared his Sukoi 26. The F-4 canopy is always sexy on that radial engined beast.
￼The National Museum of World War II Aviation flew its B-25 “In The Mood,” and with a Twin Beech showcased the big iron.
The Air National Guard at Buckley AFB brought over an F-16, and included a fly- by for good measure.
Between the acrobatic displays and the fly-bys of warbirds representing generations of military aviation, everyone was treated to an outstanding display of aeronautical history,
Along with the aircraft, more than 1,000 vintage cars showed up and approximately 10,000 visitors. The second annual Front Range Airport Warbird Fly-in was an outstanding success. Come out to KFTG next year and continue the tradition of warbirds in the spring!