The Military Aviation Museum’s Flying Proms 2019

Cover photo

On June 15th, the 9th Annual Flying Proms Symphony Air Show took place at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach. The concept of a Prom comes from 18th Century England. Live orchestral music would play in public places on the Promenade to be enjoyed by the commoners. The Military Aviation Museum teams with the Virginia Wind Symphony who provides inspiring music from under a tented band shelter to the assembled audience with aircraft flying overhead. Patrons bring their own chairs and blankets, some with a good view of the runway, others get front row to the symphony. A number of food trucks were on hand to feed the masses.

This was my first Flying Proms, although I had known about it for a few years. What sold me on the event was a statement by our media guide at Warbirds Over the Beach that the Proms event was his favorite air show. He said the lighting was amazing. With a few days prior to the show, the weather looked great and I committed. He spoke the truth that the lighting is a player in this event.

Once things got started around 6:30-7pm, the first aircraft to launch was the B-25, "Wild Cargo". Shortly afterward, the P-51 Mustang "Double Trouble Two" launched and would fly in formation with the B-25. The Mustang would stay aloft for a while. The next slot was supposed to be the BF-109 but due to a mechanical, the Focke Wulf 190 flew and would also remain aloft for a bit.

A WACO Biplane had a short flight and then a gaggle of World War I fighters entered the airspace. A Sopwith Strutter, a Halberstadt CL. IV, an Albatros, a Fokker VII and a Nieuport 17 flew together.

Some more modern Germans flew next in a Focke Wulf 44J Biplane and a Messeschmitt BF-108.

Finishing up the show was supposed to be the DeHavilland Mosquito but due to a mechanical problem, the Spitfire was substituted. I won't even complain about that switch but it does make me wonder if the flight profiles would have been the same such as formation flying with the Mustang or passing the moon.

While the aircraft were flying, the Virginia Wind Symphony played aviation themed songs like "Just Flyin'!", a suite from The Tuskegee Airmen, a suite from The Right Stuff, and known favorites like the theme from Indiana Jones and "God Bless America".

The remaining aircraft arrived back before sunset on the opposite end of the runway. A select few of them parked in front of the crowd. Music continued to play into the evening with a fireworks display to finish off the night.

The Flying Proms is a unique event in America. I enjoyed it and plan to return in future years. The lighting is definitely part of the event. I wish to thank Chris Vtipil for expediting my arrangements and the entire staff at the Military Aviation Museum who never cease to impress me in pulling off events with an almost all-volunteer and helpful workforce.

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