Genny in June

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The National Warplane Museum’s 41st Annual Airshow took place, this season only, on the first weekend of June, 2022. It is always “The Greatest Show on Turf” but this year, it was entitled “The History of Flight Airshow”. As originally scheduled, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds were to appear, which was the reason for the date change. The Snowbirds canceled the first part of their season meaning they would no longer appear at Geneseo. The show did have great weather, a hybrid tailgate and general admission crowd, the charm of the turf field, plenty of warbirds and the United States Air Force’s F-22 Demonstration Team.

My annual trip to Geneseo, New York was a little earlier this year and conflicted with World War II Weekend in Reading, PA. I explained to a number of people how “Genny” is an experience I do not get at any other show. In addition to being a media photographer, I am a member of the Museum, a light volunteer where I am needed, a tent camper, a friend and a part of this community, if only for a few days each year. The choice between Genny and Reading was not difficult, but I did take the drive to attend both in one weekend.

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For those who have never been there, Geneseo is all turf except for a cinder road leading to the museum and hangar. Sun angle is favorable for most of the day along Runway 05/23 which is 4,695 feet long. All the warbirds can operate off it and only the F-22 needed to base in Rochester, NY. Would you believe that in a conversation with members of the F-22 Demo Team, they said they loved doing this airshow? I was genuinely surprised due to the 30 mile commute between Rochester and Geneseo.

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On Thursday, the Museum’s Flagship C-47, “Whiskey 7” had a media flight in Rochester. I was not a part of that but I was able to hop onboard with my wife for the short flight up and back. Later in the day, an Army HH-60 Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook arrived for static display, Lou Horschel arrived with his FG-1 Corsair, and an Air Tractor arrived overhead doing two 360s over the runway and disappeared.

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Friday
On Friday, practice was not a formal event so only a few people were around. Early in the morning, I was able to sit in on the AirBoss briefing before walking a chair across the large field to a spot near the announcer’s platform. There were numerous practice flights starting with Lou in his other aircraft, TF-51D, “Mad Max”. W7 took off with round chute paratrooper reenactors but made no drop due to winds. Skip Hyle taxied his T-6, “J’s Bird” but returned to parking with a problem. Paul Dougherty performed in his colorful Christian Eagle biplane with his daughter as his announcer. The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association flew a 3 ship routine and then Rob Holland did his usual, flying the wings off his black and red MXS-RH. Lou Horschel flew his second routine in the Corsair, then the F-22 Demo Team finished the practice session. After practice, a Vultee BT-13 made multiple takeoffs with happy customers. A blue “Navy” T-6 arrived as well as a white PBY Catalina later in the evening. It is worth mentioning here that Scott “Scooter” Yoak was scheduled to attend in his P-51D, “Quicksilver” but did not arrive. Thom Richard went to Long Island and picked up P-51D, “Jacqueline” from the American Airpower Museum and arrived near sunset.

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Nighttime
As the sun was setting and I enjoyed a beer at my campsite, a friend messaged me that Skip Hyle would be running his T-6. Assuming this was a maintenance run, I didn’t think much about it. He added that lights were erected so I grabbed my camera and went into the dark field. Fellow Photographer, Tom Pawlesh had portable light stands that I benefitted from. After approximately 10 to 15 minutes, the run was complete. As we chatted, Tom put the lights on the Catalina for more photos. Thanks, Tom!

 

Saturday
Just prior to 0800, I heard Mustangs starting up. Another run for me through the large field to catch “Mad Max” and “The Little Witch” taking off. This was a pre-show practice of the formation routine they call “High Flight Mustangs”, which would be performed in front of the crowd later today.

SatHighFltMustangs1After the AirBoss briefing, I settled into my designated photo pit, which was exclusive, but not ideally placed, being set back from the rest of the show line. I did not mind it today after everything I saw the previous days and I was able to bring some family members into the box.

A number of aircraft launched at once to open the show. Skip Hyle’s T-6, Paul Dougherty’s Christian Eagle, W7, all three Mustangs and Rob Holland. After the T-6 and Eagle demonstrations, W7 performed a round chute drop escorted by Rob Holland. This first jump was picture perfect with 9 chutes landing on the runway. Rob Holland performed a teaser short routine and then the three Mustangs appeared overhead in a missing man formation. From there, two Mustangs split off for the impressive, High Flight Mustangs demonstration.

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Thom Richard literally landed the third Mustang and hopped into his TP-40 Warhawk, “American Dream” for a high tempo demonstration. I joked that he was doing his best impression of Rob Holland. Seriously, though, I have known Thom for a number of years and he is comfortable in various WWII fighters and it shows in his flying.

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Not to be outdone, Rob Holland returned for his full show.

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W7 took off for another round chute jump, this one more exciting than the first one. Winds were predominately down the runway most of the day. Upon the chutes leaving the aircraft, I felt the wind change quickly. These round chutes are uncontrolled and at the mercy of the wind. We saw things going wrong in slow motion. Some chutes landed in the crowd and one went almost to the cinder road. The one I concentrated on came over my head and dangerously close to the running PBY Catalina, a T-6 across from it and the Corsair in the taxiway. He was visibly tugging at his chute to clear the aircraft.

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Air Boss called for a shut down and everyone killed their engines. He eventually landed between the further row of aircraft and all of the team landed with minor injuries but nothing serious to them or the crowd.

Those aircraft running were readying to perform in the next act, the Navy Flight. Led by the long winged Catalina, she was joined by two Navy T-6s, one yellow and one blue, and the Corsair. A TBM Avenger was scheduled to appear but did not show. Afterward, Lou Horschel stayed aloft for his second solo act of the show, this time in the Corsair.

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Next was a solo routine by Thom Richard in his second routine of the day in “Jacqueline”. He also flies the Mustang with the same feel as his P-40.
I really want to single out Lou and Thom for pulling double duty, each manning a different plane and filling a time slot.

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The F-22 Demonstration Team closed out the show and everything was concluded at 3pm, but stay tuned for the evening activity. Since there is no one kicking people out, there is no reason to leave. Many people remain at their aircraft and are available to speak about it. Just another part of the Genny experience. The Saturday Night Steak Dinner is another. All the performers, volunteers, sponsors and people off the street who bought a ticket were present in a large busy tent. Some of us had to depart early for the next activity.

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Evening Photo Flight
I was fortunate to be one of only a few photographers to participate in an evening photo flight aboard W7. We cleaned those 75 year old windows and picked our spots. Members of the F-22 Demonstration Team were onboard with us in remaining seats.

Once airborne, we were photographed by the blue T-6 and in turn, we photographed him. Once he peeled away, Rob Holland popped up. Off him, the three Mustangs lined up and Rob promptly rolled inverted. We flew with them for approximately 10 minutes in gorgeous evening light. The word Epic comes to mind every time I talk about it. I only hoped that a fraction of my photos came out clear.

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What a fun weekend it was. There are too many people that I know and interact with so I will keep this list of thanks short. They know who they are and what they do to make this show a success for the guests and for the health of the Museum.
Dave, Todd, Donna, Phil, Tina, TT, Dakota, Zach, Jeremy

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