EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – If you look to the skies this weekend, you’ll see more than just clouds. 14 vintage aircrafts are in town as part of the American Barnstormers Tour. It’s a nostalgic salute to those who flew across America during the Golden Age of aviation.
Pilots who are part of the tour say it’s like taking a trip back to the 20’s when life was a little simpler and flying was more than just a means of transportation.
“The Golden Age of aviation is the period between the 1st and the 2nd World War,” says David Mars who is a commercial pilot when he’s not doing the American Barnstormers Tour. “They were able to require vintage planes surplus World War I and times were hard. It was during the depression. They had a skill of flying a plane but they didn't have work so they could buy these vintage planes for very little money and tour the country and sell rides in them.”
Mars and several other pilots are trying to preserve that period of time at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport from Thursday through Saturday this week.
“By selling rides on these biplanes, the public helps us preserve aviation history,” says Mars. The public is open to go along with a pilot in a vintage biplane for just $70 a person.
It’s a once in a lifetime chance to see the Chippewa Valley from above in a vintage plane as the tour only stops by each city only one time.
“You take a young kid up for his first plane ride and well that’s very exciting for him and at the other end of the spectrum, to take a guy up who was born back in the 1920's and he goes back to his childhood during that flight and we're taking them back in time,” says Mars who has taken hundreds if not thousands on his biplane.
For the pilots who are on the tour, it’s a chance to not only share the history of aviation but share their hobby too.
“I think my favorite part about flying is maneuvering in three-dimension. I can't figure out why people like trains, you're stuck to the tracks; or driving, you're stuck to the road; and aviation you can fly in three-dimensions,” says Hank Galpin who has been flying for nearly 50 years now.
The American Barnstormers Tour continues until Saturday at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport. A parade of flight happens each afternoon and admission is free. To ride a biplane, it is $70 per person.