May 19, 2012

Vintage aircraft flying in for Pittsfield egg festival

BY MIKE LANGE, Correspondent

PITTSFIELD — An airplane show featuring experimental aircraft and vintage World War II fighters and bombers will fly in for the Central Maine Egg Festival in July.

A chance meeting earlier this year between the president of the Texas Flying Legends Museum, which owns the war planes, and Caleb Curtis, the fixed-base operator of the Pittsfield Municipal Airport, spurred the idea.

Museum president Chris Griffin, who coordinates activities at the museum, is a Hartland native with a home on Great Moose Pond.

“I just stopped in to see Caleb one day, and asked him if they’d be interested in having us stop at the airport during the Egg Festival,” Griffin said.

Based at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas, the Flying Legends Museum pilots usually fly five or six classic aircraft to Minot, N.D. each spring, to Wiscasset each summer, and back to Texas in the fall. But this year, they’ll make a stop at the egg festival on Saturday, July 21.

The Maine Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual fly-in will also be moved from Central Maine Airport in Norridgewock to the Pittsfield Municipal Airport for the first time this year.

The entire show will be free to the public.

The Texas Flying Legends aircraft are Betty’s Dream, a B-25J bomber; Aleutian Tiger, a P-40K fighter; Dakota Kid and Little Horse, both P-5D fighters, also used as bomber escorts; Whistling Death, an FG-1D Corsair fighter; and the Last Samurai, “the only Japanese A6-M2 still flying in the world,” Griffin said.

Once the planes land at the airport, they’ll be on display for a close-up look at the craft, Griffin said.

“They won’t be roped up. We want people to touch what their great-grandparents helped build 75 years ago,” Griffin said.

Griffin, 54, has been flying for 28 years and fondly recalls his first airplane ride.

“I took a flight out of Pittsfield with the late Chuck Cianchette. He took me under his wing, so to speak. That convinced me that I wanted to be involved with aircraft in some fashion,” Griffin said. 

The Central Maine Egg Festival, which started in 1973 to promote the egg industry in the area, runs from Tuesday, July 17, through Saturday, July 21. The Kiwanis Karnival at Manson Park runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

For more information about the Texas Flying Legends, visit www.flyingfreedom.us. The Experimental Aircraft Association website is www.eaa736.org.

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