Air show to feature P-51D fighter plane

By Ryan Cornell

The seventh annual Virginia Air Show returns to the Front Royal-Warren County Airport on Saturday, and will offer a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for certain car owners, according to organizers.

In a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, the air show will roll out the sports car’s namesake, the P-51D Mustang fighter plane.

Ken Thurman, chairman of the air show’s executive committee, said Mustang drivers attending the air show will get the rare chance to have their picture taken with both their car and the airplane.

He said the car was named after the plane because of its success in World War II.

“The P-51 Mustang was one of the main reasons we won the war in Europe,” he said. “It was a phenomenal airplane in its day and outperformed pretty much any other airplane in the sky. It dominated the airspace.”

The air show will feature aerobatic performances by Scott Francis flying his MXS and Bill Finagin in his Pitts Special.

“There are some pretty wild maneuvers they can put the airplane through,” Thurman said. “There’s one where [the plane] drops vertically through its own smoke trail.”

The Bealeton Flying Circus will perform stunts and wing walking as well as a comedy act and a mock bombing of the airfields.

Displays at the show include other military aircraft, gyrocopters, quadcopters, gliders, hot air balloons and a helicopter housing a fully operational intensive care unit.

“The FAA calls it one of the most diverse sets of aircrafts flying in the country,” Thurman said. “…It’s literally what we call a barnstorming extravaganza.”

The air show lasts from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Then, after the air show ends, the regional airport will host its third annual USO Show and Dance from 6 to 10 p.m. A ’40s-style big band will play music from the era along with performances by the Hub City Lindy Hop dance troupe and a trio of local singers performing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

Tickets for the Virginia Air Show are $10 at the gate and $8 in advance. Admission to the USO Show and Dance is $5. Combination tickets are $14 at the gate and $12 in advance.

Half of the ticket proceeds from the USO Show and Dance support the USO of Metropolitan Washington.

Tickets can be purchased at the Front Royal-Warren County Visitors Center or online at http://www.virginiaairshow.com.