Story by James Britt,
Photos by Terence Gordon
The Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport (KEQY) in North Carolina is normally a training field for aspiring pilots and a stop-over for business travelers and general aviation enthusiasts.
But over the weekend of Nov. 10-11, 2018, the roar of big metal warbirds resounded throughout the quiet countryside, heralding the Warbirds Over Monroe Air Show.
The show allowed the more than 35,000 people who attended the chance to get up close to a variety of warbirds, including a P-40 Warhawk, a number of P-51 Mustangs, and a mammoth C-46, one of just six still flying.
“Tinker Bell,” the iconic Air Force C-46 transport plane of the 1950s, is based on the airfield, carefully maintained by a volunteer group at the field that is also in the process of restoring a Navy A-7 Skyhawk.
“The ability for people to get close to and touch vintage aircraft, not only watch them fly and do aerobatics, but put their hands on them, makes this show a fan favorite for aviation enthusiasts across the states of North Carolina and South Carolina,” said Bruce Johnston, a flight instructor at FlyCarolina Flight School.
Every year, unique machines show up to dazzle and delight the crowds. First-timers at the 2018 fly-in included a Curtis P-40 Warhawk tandem trainer, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, and a Navy and Marine Corps heralded gull-winged Vought F4U-Corsair fighter.
“Its like stepping out of a time machine to see a B-17 flying formation with two P-51 Mustangs and a P-40 Warhawk, a visiting spitfire from the RAF and a Navy F4U-Corsair,” said Cpt. Gary Moore of Civil Air Patrol Squadron N.C.-121 based just down the road in Concord.
While the warbirds garnered most of the crowd’s attention, a display by the Civil Air Patrol, including a Cessna 182, was a favorite among kids and teens. They got to sit in the pilot’s seat, as well as talk to other teens who are cadets in the squadron.