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American Barnstormers Tour Showcases Vintage Aviation at AirVenture Following Multi-State Tour

July 23, 2018 - The American Barnstormers Tour flew 12 vintage Travel Air biplanes to five cities in five states over the past three weeks before arriving at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 on Sunday, July 22.

The three-week tour began in Jefferson City, Missouri, on July 5, and continued through Ames, Iowa; Watertown, South Dakota; and Brainerd, Minnesota, before the penultimate stop in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Five of the 12 late-1920s vintage biplanes sold rides at each stop, with the other airplanes on static display.

The 12 tour airplanes are on display in the Vintage area near EAA’s own 1929 Travel Air E-4000, which works all summer giving rides off the grass runway at Pioneer Airport, behind the EAA Aviation Museum. This is believed to be the largest gathering of Travel Air biplanes in decades, possibly since they left the factory. These airplanes have an impressive pedigree, as the original Travel Air Manufacturing Company was founded by Lloyd Stearman, Clyde Cessna, and Walter Beech.  

Clay Adams, EAA 729846 and an airline pilot with 3,000 hours of flying time in Travel Airs, was one of the organizers of the first tour more than 10 years ago. He really enjoys the experience of giving people rides in these classic biplanes.

“I like to share my experience,” he said. “I want to leave an impression of what we’ve done with this in the future compared to the past.”

Amy Reiss, an avid pilot who has served as ground crew on the tour, appreciates the chance to show people what flying was like several decades ago.

“Everyone’s all about the new, new, new, but it’s like you get in this plane and you almost travel back in time,” she said. “It’s unlike anything else, and it’s just an amazing honor too.”

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