TITUSVILLE, Fla. - When Matt Younkin’s Beech 18 lumbers down an airshow runway, the 1943 “obese” warbird does not seem suitable to do any aerobatics.
Looks can be deceiving.
Up in the air under Younkin’s able guidance, Magic by Moonlight, a vintage plane once designed as a navigation trainer for the Army Air Corps, transforms a lithe bird capable of extraordinary flight. A night owl, Magic by Moonlight appears to shimmer and glow during evening airshows, thanks to more than 50 lights on its fuselage that, coupled with smoke, noise, choreography and an incredible musical score, make for performance worthy of Broadway.
Magic by Moonlight is one of the 35 flying warbirds that will light up the sky during Valiant Air Command’s Space Coast Warbird Airshow from Friday through Sunday, March 15 to 17, at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, reports News 6 partner Florida Today.
At 42, the Warbird Airshow is one of the longest-running airshows in the nation and one of the few that is manned by volunteers. The event exists to fund the Warbird Museum, which celebrates the steely beauty of these fighting planes and the courage of the men and women who kept them flying.
Dogfights, re-enactments in the air and ground, close races between sports cars and planes and feats of fast-paced flying derring-do from showmen such as the crowd-pleasing Aeroshell Aerobatic Team should keep the blood pumping.
The rarest flying warbird of them all this year is the XP-82 Twin Mustang, which is making its first public appearance since being restored by Tom Reilly Restorations in Douglas, George. The extremely unique airplane, actually two Mustangs fused together, is the only flying representative of its type in the globe.
On the ground, 45 static airplanes and helicopters will be ready for meet-and-greet, as will the flying warbirds and their pilots when they are not up in the sky.
While understandably the planes dominate the show, there is much more to the show. To get things started, Friday night fireworks light up Titusville in memorable fashion. Show director Bob Boswell promises this year’s fireworks will not soon be forgotten.
“It will be incredible, better than any other fireworks in the county,” he said.
Speaking of lighting, the Homewrecker, an 18-wheeler jet truck outfitted with three jet engines, will spew fire as it races down the runway. A vintage tank from Tank America will demonstrate the awesome firepower of the metal beasts. For motorcycle enthusiasts, the bike corral hosted by Space Coast Harley Davidson’s new Titusville superstore is a must-do. Vintage and classic cars abound, too.
The Space Coast favorite C-47, Normandy veteran Tico Belle, starts off the air portion of the show each day by flying overhead as 17 skydivers from the Air Sports Parachute Team escort a 100-foot American flag to the ground.
Children’s games, a carnival, vendors and food, food, food are also part of the program. Food concessions are manned by volunteers from local nonprofits, so giving in to the temptation of the show food will also help put some money in the coffers of much-needed charities.
For attendees who want a taste of flying, several of the flying machines will be available for rides, including biplanes and helicopters such as the always astounding Cobra. The “Movie Memphis Belle,” the B-17 Flying Fortress featured in the 1990 film, will offer riders to get a glimpse into the lives of the bombardiers, waist gunners and flight engineers of WWII.
The Airshow opens at 2 p.m. Friday, March 15, for an afternoon and evening show that ends around 8 p.m. with the above-mentioned fireworks display. Hours for Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17, run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Note that since Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, the show that day includes giveaways of green necklaces and stickers, plus the sale of green beer.
When the warbirds are in town, the fun begins.
Coast Warbird Airshow
When: Friday from 2 p.m. until about 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Space Coast Regional Airport on Tico Rd. in Titusville
Cost: General admission is $20 online and $30 at the gate. Admission for children 5 to 12 is $10. Show enhancement options include $10 upgrade for reserved seats in an uncovered area along the show line, $55 Beer Garden tickets, which premium viewing at a special reserved tent on the show line, plus snacks and two drinks. General parking is free; admission to the Premium Parking area, which provides hard surface parking near the main gate, dedicated shuttle service and easy exit after the show, is $10.
To purchase tickets or get more information: valiantaircommand.com.
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