Airplanes are meant to fly.
That’s what makes the 6-day-long National Stearman Fly-In, which starts here on Labor Day, different from many other warbird reunions.
Most of the Stearmans brought to Galesburg are flown every day. They’re definitely not “hangar queens” or museum pieces.
The Stearmans – most are between 70 and 80 years old — won a place in history during World War II, launching more military pilots into the air than any other series of primary trainers ever built.
Fly-In visitors can get a close-up look at the airplanes during a tram ride along the Stearman flight line, says Dale Ruebner of Galesburg, who’s in charge of the rides.
A narrated program tells tram riders about Stearman history, why those who own and fly them are so dedicated, and about the Fly-In’s history, Ruebner says. This is the 45th year for the event.
Trams will operate each day of the Fly-In from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting. Cost to ride is $1 per person.
Access to the flight line is generally restricted to registered Fly-In participants for safety reasons. The tram rides were started several years ago to provide a convenient, safe and secure way to allow large numbers of people to get close to the planes, Ruebner says.
Members of Knox County AMVETS Post 8 are hosts on the trams again this year.