When I heard about the Flying Circus down at Bealeton, Virginia it sounded like a fun way to pass an afternoon. Little did I know that it would turn out to be a trip highlight.
This event has taken place every Sunday from May through October since 1970 and I can understand why. It’s an action packed air show filled with humor, excitement, danger and fun involving some fascinating aircraft.
They use a variety of biplanes to demonstrate old school barnstorming techniques and World War I era maneuvers. Think target practice using bags of pancake mix and the use of a hook to pick up a mailbag. I loved seeing them attempt to pop balloon with their propellers and the acrobatic flying is just incredible.
There’s a master of ceremonies who narrates the action and who tells stories about the planes and their pilots. On this particular day there were nine biplanes in the air and they had a couple of guests, including a sort of rock star pilot who flew the cutest little jet at a terrifying 300 miles per hour – upside down, sideways and straight up in the air. It was crazy.
Plus there was a wing walker – part artist, part athlete and all daredevil – who wowed the crowd by hanging off the wings and by doing other stunts that I couldn’t do on the ground, much less at 80 miles per hour in the sky.
They give plane rides before and after the show. You can even buy an acrobatic flight.
And no, I didn’t do that.
But I did get to see a bunch of volunteers work together to lift a wheelchair bound veteran from his chair into a biplane using a bucket truck and harness. He went up in one plane and his daughter in another. It was delightful to see them take off in tandem and then chase each other on the horizon. I chatted with him after his ride. He was still glowing and I was as excited for him as if he were my own grandfather.
The show is about ninety minutes but you’re welcome to come early to see the planes and take a ride. While they do sell concessions, they invite folks to bring a picnic and enjoy the day. I arrived a couple of hours early so I could photograph the planes and watch them fly. I packed a veggie sub, a book, a comfy chair and went prepared to do some people watching too.
It was relaxing, interesting and fun – exactly what I needed on that day.
If you like airplanes and airshows, this is a terrific event. At $15 admission, it’s a real bargain. Unless you can make it this weekend, you’ve missed out for this season but it’s never too early to start planning next year’s adventures. Read all about the Flying Circus Air Show here!
The road trip continues tomorrow! Check back to see where I go next!