NEW GARDEN >> All eyes turned upward as the amazing men in their flying machines performed feats of magic in the sky on Saturday.
The New Garden Flying Field presented its annual air and car show, this year called “Festival of Flight,” to a somewhat reduced crowd. With low clouds hovering and reports of rain nearby, the chances were that many potential visitors postponed their outing for today, inasmuch as the forecast for Day 2 is sunny and warm.
Nonetheless, one air show official said cheerfully on Friday, “At least people won’t have to worry about getting a sunburn on Saturday.”
As it was, the rain held off until late in the afternoon, and the spectators were treated to a satisfying variety of stunt flying, comedy entertainment and good food.
Probably the most awe-inspiring performance was that of stunt flyer Matt Chapman, who flew in his yellow warbird at about 1 p.m. and did flips, dips and aerobatics in rapid succession, sometimes zooming close to the ground over his viewers and spurting vapor out the back to make fancy contrails in the sky.
Toward the end of his show, he joined with a radio-controlled plane and did a kind of dance duet in the sky.
But Saturday’s Festival of Flight was more than just airplanes dancing overhead.
There was a general mood that caressed the senses — one of the memories of the World War II era and the joy of being outside.
Glenn Miller music played and all throughout the viewing area were reminders of 1940s: pinup calendars, antique cars, old military vehicles and vintage entertainment.
One of the show favorites was a re-enactment group of comedians Abbott and Costello, who concluded their show with the memorable “Who’s On First” routine.
Many of the flyers wore vintage World War II period garments.
And wasn’t just the sights and sounds that impressed, either. The scent of cheesesteaks and funnel cake hung heavy in the air, persuading many to catch their lunch at the vendors’ stands.
Quite a few antique plane enthusiasts flew in to put their vehicles on display.
Dale Auer of Harrisburg brought in a tiny BC-5 plane, which he was still preparing for flight as the show began. It was so small that it barely left room inside for a pilot, and a small one at that. One tall spectator in a Marines T-shirt nearby observed, “I couldn’t fit in there.”
Joe and Janet Flood flew in their 1939 yellow Aeronca and stood by as visitors admired it. Joe Flood said he has had a large part in restoring the plane and it has won several prizes at shows throughout the United States. He added that the family interest in flying extends to his son, who is a crop duster in New Jersey and sprays cranberries and blueberries.
The announcer spoke of delays or postponements of some acts due to low-hanging clouds and less-than-stellar weather, but there were also many invitations to the crowd to return for the following day’s show. It begins at 9 a.m. today with a pancake breakfast and continues through the morning with rides in the warbirds. The show begins in earnest about 11:30 a.m. and continues through the afternoon. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children at the gate. The flying field is along Newark Road, a mile south of Route 1’s Toughkenamon exit.