There are no “hangar queens” at the National Stearman Fly-In.
Most of the old warbirds brought to Galesburg fly every day. That’s what makes the event – this year it’s Sept. 3-8 at Galesburg Municipal Airport — different from many other fly-ins.
It’s a sight to be seen – and heard. The Stearmans’ radial engines make a distinct sound taking off and passing overhead.
Dozens of Stearmans are expected here again this year. Here’s how one pilot described the spectacle: “A hundred or more Stearmans on the grass is an immersion in the past you won’t find anywhere else in the country.”
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.
Members of Knox County AMVETS Post 8 will act as hosts on the trams again this year.
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 47th 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.