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    As the oldest continually operating commercial airport in the United States, Bowman Field is rich with history and culture, but it is often overlooked. However, this weekend, Bowman Field is the center of attention at this year’s first Bowman Aviation Heritage Festival, created to celebrate and support Bowman Field and its historic significance to Louisville. “We sat down with Friends of Bowman Field founder, Rick Tabb, earlier this year to talk about how to raise awareness for the preservation and promotion of this Louisville icon,” explains Tisha Gainey, Event Organizer for the festival. “What came from that meeting was a common vision to share and celebrate the rich aviation history of Bowman Field.”

    Image: Bowman Field Airport Terminal

    The Heritage Festival will take place this Saturday and Sunday, October 8-9 (see times below), with events and showcases scheduled throughout both days. On Saturday, work up an appetite at the Yum! Brands Hot Air Balloon Rally and the Bowman Four Miler Fun Run, before tucking into the pancake breakfast complimentary for the runners. On both days, there will be music, food trucks – including some local favorites like Booty’s on a Bun, Moelicious, Smokin Taco and Cookie Cabin – as well as a bar stocked with Rhinegeist beer and Four Roses bourbon. This is Kentucky, after all.

    The highlight of the festival is the Historic Aviation Showcase, featuring over 30 planes from the 1920s through the ‘60s. While there are too many to list here, some confirmed celebrity appearances include: the 1920 Jn-4 Curtiss Jenny, the “plane that taught America to fly” and the first plane to fly from Bowman Field; the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, which was designed to promote the idea of safe, fast and comfortable air travel and was thus the first commercially successful airliner in the U.S.; the 1936 Lockheed 12 Electra Jr., one of approximately nine still running and the one featured in the movie Amelia; and the 1940 Stearman Biplane, in which American pilots trained for WWII and which were repurposed into crop dusters and barnstormers after the war. Those are just four of the many, many planes that will be on display. And if you’re lucky, you may even get to ride in one of these vintage beauties (like the Tri-Motor, for example).

    Image: J. Lehle, Stearman Biplane

    "People have a great affection for airplanes and Bowman Field provides the perfect park-like setting and historical context for connecting with the beauty and wonder of flight," says Rick Tabb, Executive Director of Bowman Field Friends. "We are excited to create this event that makes aviation come alive here at Bowman Field by bringing together the aviation and the local community, and to share this wonderful resource and experience with a greater audience.” You don’t have to be an airplane aficionado to enjoy the showcase, but if you are, this is your weekend. Bring your significant other, bring your grandparents, bring your kids, because no one can resist the wonder of these historical planes.

    Image: D. Miller, Ford Tri-Motor

    Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
    Sunday: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

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    Cover Image courtesy of Simply PR

    Alexandra Winters's picture

    About Alexandra Winters

    I love coffee, brunch, books and the Highlands.

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