EAST ALTON — The 2015 Wings & Wheels Fly In and Car Show will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, at St. Louis Regional Airport on Illinois 111.
A highlight of this year’s show will be a TBM Avenger, a 40-foot bomber, from the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.
The Grumman Avenger was manufactured right after Pearl Harbor. One of its most famous crew members is actor Paul Newman, who as a young man served as a radioman-gunner in an Avenger torpedo bomber. He flew from the USS Bunker Hill during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 and then later as a turret gunner.
Fly-in visitors can touch the metal and see the kind of plane Newman and other naval flyers served in thanks to the CAF. The organization acquires, restores and preserves, in flying condition, combat aircraft and takes them to public events to make historic planes accessible to people who may never get to visit an aviation museum.
Fly-in attendees can take a ride on the Avenger for $895. Individuals can sign up for their own mission as a crew member or give a flight as a gift so a friend or family member can experience or remember what it was like to hear the engine, smell the smoke and be in the machine gun station or behind the radio of a plane flying off to attack “Zeros.”
Close to 100 other aircraft are expected as well and the East Side RC Club will demonstrate radio-controlled model airplanes and helicopters. Pilots who have not registered are encouraged to register in advance by calling St. Louis Regional at (618) 259-2531.
Planes signed up to date include a Spacewalker II, Ercoupe, fully acrobatic Citabria and a glider. There will be several T6 trainers and an assortment of Cessnas, Beach and Pipers, including a J3 Cub.
As always, there will be a big car show and a swap meet for automotive enthusiasts. New technology will be showcased alongside antique autos, hot rods, custom cars and motorcycles. Registration for the car show begins at 9 a.m., an hour before the event opens.
Food and drink will be on sale and families are welcome to bring picnic baskets. There will be activities for children and a multinational firearms display that will give adults and children alike a close-up view of historical weapons. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service will have an on-air demonstration.
Although the cars and display planes will be gone on Sunday, Sept. 27, children ages 8-17 can return with their parents for free flights sponsored by the EAA Chapter 864 Young Eagles. Youth are encouraged to do advance registration for the free flights Saturday during the fly-in.
Admission and parking for the event are free. Parking is located just off Illinois 111 directly in front of the airport. A map and event details are available at www.stlouisregional.com.
More on the Avenger is available at the Commemorative Air Force website, www.cafmo.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&Itemid=33.