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Chester County Press

Capacity crowd of 4,000 attends New Garden Flying Field Show

09/06/2022 03:06PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw                    After a two-year layoff due to COVID-19 and temporary flight restrictions, the New Garden Flying Field hosted “An Evening of Aviation” before a crowd estimated at 4,000 on Aug. 31.

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

On Aug. 31, after more than two years of cancellations due to a pandemic and federal flight restrictions, the air above the New Garden Flying Field – billowy with clouds and a cobalt blue evening sky opened up again to a spectacle of flying machines.

Even before the 4 p.m. start of “An Evening of Aviation, lines of vehicles were filing into the Flying Field from Newark Road, and by 6 p.m., nearly every crevice of the festival grounds was thick with a crowd estimated at near 4,000, whose heads tilted toward the several air demonstrations above them that included parachute teams, formation teams and aerobatic flights.

The event signaled a return to normalcy for the Flying Field, who has hosted numerous air shows over the years that have included The Festival of Flight, the Chester County Balloon Festival and several running and community gatherings. Since 2020, however, the Flying Field has been unable to organize large-scale shows for two reasons: COVID-19, and the temporary flight restrictions (TFR) enacted by the United States Secret Service that have restricted aviation at the airport whenever President Joe Biden is at his home in nearby Wilmington.

The event, which was moved up one day because of rain that was forecasted for Aug. 30, also included a demonstration of unique automobiles, food vendors and remote aircraft displays – all of which concluded with a fireworks display that lit up the Flying Field in an effervescent glow.

The show was highlighted by two performances from pilot Matt Younkin, the son of the legendary air show pilot Bobby Younkin and the grandson of Jim Younkin, a respected aircraft designer. Younkin has become one of the nation’s premiere aerobatic pilots and his shows have been described as among “the most graceful and beautiful performances the air show industry has to offer.”

“It is great to be back in the saddle again, and I think everyone here is walking around with a little more pep in their step tonight,” said Future Aviators Camp Director Court Dunn. “To see some of the acts we have and knowing full well that we haven’t had any of this for more than two years -- and to hear from those in attendance that they’re happy to be back at New Garden Flying Field again – it does something wonderful to our hearts.”

New Garden Flying Field Aviation Director Jon Martin said the event “was two years in the making.”

To put the event together as an evening show really drove the success of it,” Martin said the day after the event. “It was something we had not done before, but I think the public is hungry to see live events at the Flying Field again, and I think they also want to support the airport, as well.

“They feel our pain, and everybody I’ve talked to understands what we’re going through (with the TFRs). Whatever their political affiliations are, they see that a local business is getting routinely shut down based on rules and regulations, and they want to offer their support in any way they can.”

Martin said reintroducing the weeknight evening show format at the Flying Field may be considered again in the future.

“We had antique and classic aircraft, antique and custom automobiles, and we ended it with a fireworks show,” he said. “The value of the air show for the airport and the township far exceeds the financial commitment to it. We have already heard a lot of positive remarks from many people in the community and the region, who talked about how that value places the airport in a positive light.

“My role as the event coordinator is to manage the expectations of the public who are attending an event. We want to continue to give them something that will inspire them to say, ‘Wow. That was amazing.’ We did that last night.”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].