The World War II Weekend is one of the best air shows on the American East Coast.
Organized by the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, the 30th annual World War II Weekend air show was a stunning success. After being cancelled last year, due to COVID, the June 4-5-6, 2021 show was a sign of normalcy returning. Held on the East Coast of the United States in Reading, Pennsylvania, this air show consists solely of warbirds from the Second World War, as well as a large contingent of WWII reenactors on the ground.
The show is rather unique, in that it is solely composed of warbirds from the Second World War. No fast movers, no helicopters. The only comparable shows, that I know of, would be: the Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino, California and shows held at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in the United Kingdom.
Not only is the show visually stimulating, but also the sounds of various aircraft are music to one’s ears. The deep throated roar of radial engines was contrasted by the ripping/tearing sound of inline Merlin powered aircraft.
The weather cooperated for the most part with blue skies during the show’s busiest days on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday there was an intense and localized downpour which brought the show to a halt and sent people running for cover. Still, once the rain cleared, it provided for some nice photography.
It was a thrill seeing a Japanese Zero, in this case a Nakajima A6M2 Model 21 Zero, for the first time. Owned by Ellenville LLC, this rare Zero is powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine. The company also flew their FG-1D Corsair as well as a P-51D Mustang.
The WWII Airborne Demonstration Team drops on Saturday and Sunday gave the public a small glimpse of what our airborne troops experienced. The Team is part of The Parachute School, which trains individuals in WWII military style static line parachuting. Both days the Team jumped from a C-46 Commando in two sticks of six men and women. Their authentic attention to detail in their uniforms and parachuting skills were most impressive.
Seeing and hearing heavy four engine bombers is always stunning to experience. The Yankee Air Museum brought their B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady”. Plus, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) flew in their star attraction, the B-29 Superfortress “Fifi”. Both bombers performed during the show as well as flew rides for lucky passengers.
The CAF always provides numerous warbirds from various units for the World War II Weekend Airshow. Airbase Georgia, the CAF unit based near Atlanta, contributed their P-51D Mustang, SBD-5 Dauntless, FG-1D Corsair, and a very rare P-63A-6 Kingcobra. The TBM-3E Avenger “Doris Mae”, from the CAF Capital Wing, conducted rides and took part in the missing man formation.
Even though the show had fewer warbirds, as compared to past years, it was an impressive event with mostly good weather. World War II Weekend Airshow is definitely a bucket list air show for aviation aficionados. It normally takes place on or around the anniversary of the D-Day, in early June. I recommend you place it on your air show calendar for 2022.