If you are plane crazy about WWII warbirds, you must attend this annual air show held in Reading, Pennsylvania USA.
Three glorious rain free days, with mild temperatures, provided absolute perfect weather and flight conditions for this year’s WWII Weekend air show. The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum oversees the air show, which took place from Jun. 3 to 5, 2022. The show serves as the non-profit’s major fundraiser.
Held yearly since 1990, minus 2020, the show takes place in early June to coincide with the anniversary of D-Day. Unique among air shows in America, the show is strictly limited to WWII warbirds. Thus, you will see no modern jets nor military flight demonstration teams, just aircraft from the Second World War.
Always a crowd favorite are the heavy bombers in attendance, namely the: Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Fifi”, Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil”, and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady”. These first two aircraft compose the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29/B-24 Squadron. Both aircraft are noteworthy as one of only two airworthy examples of each respective bomber. While “Yankee Lady” B-17 is the center piece of the Yankee Air Museum, located at the Willow Run Airport in Belleville, Michigan USA.
The interior views, from the “Fifi” and “Diamond Lil”, were absolutely rewarding. The view literally puts you in the pilot’s seat. Having flown in multiple warbirds, it is an experience to “walk” through a warbird as opposed to squeezing into a tight fitting seat. Should you have the opportunity, I highly suggest your book a flight with the CAF’s B-29/B-24 Squadron or Yankee Air Museum’s B-17.
Historical reenactment is a key feature of WWII Weekend. Registered reenactor units and individuals are allowed into the show for free, and hundreds campout at the event each night. With upwards of a thousand reenactors, it may be the largest such WWII reenactment gathering in the United States. Friday and Saturday nights, there is a free dance featuring live swing music. Plus, each afternoon there is a “battle”, held between the runway and taxiway, where American and German troops fight it out.
Not that often might you see a Bell P-39 Airacobra or even a Bell P-63 Kingcobra, so it was truly a rare event to have both these warbirds at the same show. While the P-39 was used briefly by the United States at the start of the war, most of the P-39s and then P-63s were sent as lend-lease aircraft to the Soviet Union.
The Commemorative Air Force’s Airbase Georgia unit always brings a strong contingent of warbirds to the show. In addition to the P-63 Kingcobra they brought to Reading, they also flew in their beautiful North American P-51 Mustang. Besides selling rides in the Mustang, the P-51 took part in a solo acrobatic demonstration as well as the show’s final flight a missing man formation.
As with most North American air shows, there were plenty of T-6 Texans and the Navy equivalent the SNJ, in attendance. This is due to hundreds of T-6s surviving WWII and having decades of useful lives as trainers and forward air control aircraft. The South African Air Force used the T-6 until 1995, and many of these planes are now on the warbird circuit.
When it comes to experiencing a large gathering of WWII warbirds, the Reading World War II Weekend air show is simply one of the best in the nation. The only other shows, that might compare, are AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the Planes of Fame air show in Chino, California. Should you have a chance to attend the World War II air show, you will not be disappointed.