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World War I Aircraft Gather In Dayton

Tom Kozara demonstrated a wonderful run-up of a 1909 Gnome engine. Photo by Tom Beech.
View the photo gallery.

October 1, 2009 — Last weekend, the Great War Aeroplanes Association, in partnership with the National Museum of the United States Air Force, held their biennial Dawn Patrol Rendezvous on the museum’s grounds at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Despite questionable weather, this year’s Rendezvous drew hundreds of spectators, and, thanks to special arrangements with WPAFB, featured flying displays by several replicas and recreations of WWI-era aircraft. A number of the visiting aircraft were trucked in and assembled on-site, offering onlookers a great opportunity to see firsthand what goes in to building, say, a 7/8ths scale Nieuport 11 or S.E.5a.  

The stars of the show, however, were three full-scale replicas from Colorado’s Vintage Aero Flying Museum. Their beautiful, meticulously recreated Fokker Dr.I, D.VII, and D.VIII were flown more than 1,100 miles to the event by Mark Halliday, Dan Murray, and Andrew King, respectively.

That’s an impressive distance for any general aviation aircraft (and pilot!) but when you factor in the cramped and open cockpit, the somewhat “charming” handling characteristics of these airplanes, and the fact that they had to stop every hundred miles or so for fuel and oil, the achievement becomes even more remarkable.

Those that attended the event certainly appreciated the effort. Two spectators, EAA member Tom Beech and EAA staff member Hal Bryan were on hand and snapped some pictures for a photo gallery.

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