Watch Aviation History Take to the Air at Vintage Fly-Ins

Autumn unfolds as a favorable season for antique aircraft.

A Travel Air 6000 at Antique Airfield. [Courtesy: Antique Airplane Association]

A close look at vintage aircraft can give pilots a better appreciation for the hard work and sacrifice it took to create today’s thriving aviation industry. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to see historically significant flying machines in action at fly-in events around the country.

Whether you’re partial to aircraft representing the earliest days of flight, the Golden Age of the 1920s and 1930s, or the fighting machines of World War II, you have a good chance of finding examples of them at relaxed, family-friendly gatherings that typically include food and activities for kids. Below are a few of the fly-ins coming up between now and mid-autumn. 

Antique Airplane Association/Airpower Museum Invitational Fly-in

August 30 through September 5, Antique Airfield (IA27), Blakesburg, Iowa

This Labor Day weekend event is an annual highlight for the Antique Airplane Association and the Airpower Museum, which host the gathering. The AAA has worked to keep antique airplanes airworthy and flying since 1953, and the fly-in typically draws a huge turnout to the group’s 2,350-foot turf runway. This event is limited to AAA members, their families, and invited guests, but the organization is working to boost its membership and is actively seeking new members. Pilots interested in vintage machinery can contact AAA through Instagram, Facebook, and by phone at 641-938-2773.

31st Annual Fly-In/Cruise-In

September 3, Marion Municipal Airport (KMZZ), Marion, Indiana

This annual event runs from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features antique, classic, homebuilt, and ultralight aircraft, as well as warbirds and rotorcraft. Because nothing complements vintage airplanes quite the way vintage ground vehicles do, the event includes a range of vintage cars, trucks, motorcycles, fire trucks, autocycles, military vehicles, and tractors. An all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast is available and proceeds from the event benefit the Grant County Rescue Mission located in Marion.

Just Plane Fun Day

September 10, East Hampton Airport (KJPX), East Hampton, New York

Just Plane Fun Day is a fly-in and airport open-house event meant to give members of the local community a close look at classic aircraft, vintage warbirds, modern jets, and “many other unique and historically significant airplanes.” The event is part of a wider outreach effort to demonstrate the airport’s benefits to the area economy. Critics have lobbied for years to close the airport, and that movement has intensified over the last year or so.

41st Simsbury Fly-In, Car Show and Food Truck Festival

September 25, Simsbury Airport (4B9), Simsbury, Connecticut

Organizers say “vintage and older aircraft are especially welcome” at this event, which they also tout as the “largest fly-in in the northeastern USA.” The gathering includes a car show and a “major food truck festival.” Attendees can see a demonstration of one of Pipistrel’s all-electric aircraft along with other aerial demos and free seminars. Airplane dealers and car dealers will also have displays and information available. For more information about the fly-in, contact Bill Thomas at or visit

The Great Pumpkin Fly-In and Show and Shine

October 22, Grimes Airport (8N1), Bethel, Pennsylvania

The Golden Age Air Museum is the backdrop for this gathering, which includes a flight of vintage aircraft “pumpkin bombing” the airport in Bethel, Pennsylvania. The kid-friendly event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and includes raffles, prizes, awards, and an opportunity to see aircraft, some of which are more than 100 years old, on display and in the air.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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