2008 Air Shows


Location: Geneseo, Airport, Geneseo, New York
Admission: $45.00 for 3 days, Internet price.
Parking: Free on the airport grounds.
Value: Good (if the weather cooperates)
The grass field and the flight path for the air show provided excellent viewing and photographic opportunities in general if one got to the show early, as in 6 a.m..

Geneseo, is located just south of Batavia, NY., and southeast of Buffalo, NY. I heard from many air show enthusiasts, that Geneseo was one of the few shows where one can actually get close to the actual planes and mingle with the pilots! The show was advertised as the "P-40 Flying Tigers Reunion" with other interesting and rare planes such as the B-24 OL 9247, the famed B-17F Memphis Belle (replica made from from an actual B-17G model), this replica was used in the movie of the same name. The original B-17F Memphis Belle, is at the USAF Museum, in Dayton, Ohio, and is undergoing restoration.

Geneseo had the making of a good air show, in reality due to the weather, it should have been called the "Rain & No Show" as it rained on all three days and several of the aircraft of interest never showed up due technical difficulties.
The weather is beyond anybody's control, and it was terrible. On Friday the 13th(!), the arrival date for the aircraft, it rained several times, and that prevented me from taking photos until about noon. Then, the weather let up a bit, (2) F-16s flew by once real quickly. While I was taking static photos, heard some jet noise and when I looked up and saw another F-16 with a P-51 Mustang, practicing for the upcoming Heritage fly-by, on Saturday and Sunday. Although they flew by unexpectedly, I managed to take a few photos of them together. Just after 2 p.m., it started to rain once again. This time, however, it was severe, so I left for the day. The weather cleared about 4:30 p.m., and most of the aircraft arrived after that time. I was hoping that the advertised ones such as the the B-24A "Ole 927" and the B-25 "Briefing Time" would still show up by Saturday morning, as these two were on my list of musts.
Saturday, June 14th, started out sunny, but the grass field was very wet and soggy. I was able to take static photos of some of the aircraft there, but I noticed quite a few of the advertised aircraft were missing from the lineup. While there were plenty of Texan T6 trainers or as they are called in Canada; Harvards, and older civilian types these were not on my priority list. My focus was on the WWII warbirds and on the P-40 Flying Tiger Reunion planes.

While there were other WWII era aircraft such as the Japanese Aichi D3A1 Val, and Douglas Skytrain, I already had photos of these from Friday and and from previous shows. Several Russian made Yak-53 Trainers from the 1980's flew in on Saturday morning too, but I am not sure if they participated in the air show later on. They were gone by Sunday morning. There would be a Heritage flyby with an F-16 and a P-40, apparently for the first time as such, and a Hercules cargo drop demonstration too!

I found myself a good spot near a grassy taxiing area, which at the time looked promising for taking photos. I met some other fellow photographers, one from Guelph, Ontario, who reassured me that this was indeed the best spot. This was at 6 a.m. Around 8 a.m., a couple of the air show ground directing personnel told us, “we could stay where we were, but during some of the taxiing we may have to move for a bit, but after that we can return.’’
The show started around 10 a.m., and around 11 a.m., we were told to move while some of the aircraft were being refueled too close to us, but we could return once they were done. Just as we moved back around 11:30 a.m., we were then told "Sorry, but due to FAA regulations, you will now have to move to another area!" I have nothing against complying to Laws and Regulations, but our reaction was “Gee, thanks a lot!! Couldn't you have told this to us at 8 a.m. or even before the show got started?” I do not think that we were violating the FAA regulation, nor do I think that the regulation changed in a couple of hours! And if we were in violation, we were at 6 a.m. too. These brilliant ground directors might have told us, the photographers there for a reason, besides out of boredom, that we would have to move, period, right then. Certainly not after the show had started and went on for over an hour! Since by this time, the flight line viewing area was packed in some places up to 20 rows deep. Good luck trying to take a decent photo. Murphy’s law was in full swing as someone would stick their cell phone camera up in the air right in front me, or bob their heads into my sight line, blocking the view. Seems people always do!
My day was clearly ruined and so it was for other photographers too. In fact, some were so disappointed and disgusted with this that they packed up and went home, vowing never to return!

Anyhow, I stayed since I had an assignment to complete, and found myself a distant, relatively acceptable spot that would give a sight line above the heads of the crowds. At least, I would be able to take some images, once the planes were in the air, or so I thought. As soon as the show was starting to get interesting, (I am not interested in photographing civilian types of small aircraft painted in pink), just after the B-17 took off, the rain started. After about 40 minutes, on again, off again, with some stronger downpours in between, the rain finally stopped. My camera gear was still relatively dry as I had placed them on my lawn chair with a plastic tarp over them. Since I already missed the Mustangs in the air, due to my move to an alternate location, I was looking forward to see the P-40 Warhawk in the air. Finally the P-40 Flying Tigers Reunion planes took off. There were five P-40s at the show, but only four off them flew on Saturday. I thought, well if nothing else, I will have some images of the Flying Tigers. But it was Murphy's Law at work once again. Even though, I was far from the crowds, a group of 5 or 6 persons with 2 baby carts blocked my view by stopping in front of me to discuss what little Johnny ate and why Susie threw up in the morning. As I tried to move, these people just kept moving too, pushing their carts in from of me and blocking my view. It felt like they were on a mission, to stand in my line of sight, blocking the little view I had of the show. After about 45 minutes they finally moved on, but now I was interrupted by people who actually, and incredibly, stuck their faces into my lens while I was trying to take photos of planes flying low. Asking brilliant questions, "just how close will that big lens of yours bring in the planes?" Despite this I managed to take some shots of the Hurricane and the Spitfire, and even some WWI biplane action. The show was now running late due to the earlier rain delay, and it started to get overcast once again. By this time, I had had enough distractions for the day. I left around 4 p.m. before the show was over. My Saturday was a right off for me, but still I had some lingering hopes for Sunday.

Sunday, June 15, it was foggy and overcast, but it looked as if the weather would clear up just enough to take some decent photos. I had a good, ‘safe’ spot staked out at 6 a.m. Around 8:45 a.m. it started to get dark once again and it rained until about 10 a.m. I was close to a tent, where the ground personnel and some of the pilots were sitting. I and countless others joined them inside the tent. It rained quite heavily, and we wondered if the show would be cancelled or not. But there was no clear reply. Finally the rain stopped, and around 10:30 a.m., the opening ceremonies started, and a few older Sterman biplane trainers took off. But as soon as they were in the air, a rain storm blew in, it not only rained once again, it was a torrential downpour, and it just didn't want to stop. Noon went by and the water was standing about 1.5" to 2" on the ground. During the storm a lot of people had left. I asked if the show would be cancelled, but again the ground crew had no clear answers. Around 12:30 p.m., I decided that it was pointless to hang around anymore, even the U.S. Marines had left the show! Even if the rain would stop that instant, I had serious doubts that the WWII Warbirds, would risk taking off in such conditions. The P-40s, P-51s, the lonely Hurricane, Spitfire, and Corsair are worth over million a piece, if I would be the owner I would certainly not take off when considering the local conditions.
Some of the participants were:
  • (1) B-17F "Memphis Belle"
  • (4) P-51D Mustang -- one was a Canadian
  • (5) P-40 Warhawk -- only 4 flew, one had problems
  • (1) Corsair
  • (1) Hurricane -- from Canada
  • (1) Spitfire -- from Canada
  • (1) Hawker Seafury -- from Canada
  • Several Harvards -- from Canada
  • Several WWI biplane replicas -- from Canada
  • and many others with a lot of civillian types too.
Geneseo doesn't have a tarmac, only a grass covered landing/take off airstrip. With so much water on the ground, these historical aircraft could be damaged very easily while taxiing in the muck. I packed up my gear, and headed toward my car. I was drenched and my shoes were totally soaked through as I waddled in the up to 2" of standing water, mud and muck. I then left the airport. The rain stopped soon after, but I was through.
Geneseo, by far for me personally anyway, had to be the worst air show I have ever attended to date. Not just due to the weather, but due to the lack of proper information by the ground personnel and, unfortunately, by some of the most inconsiderate and rude people I have ever encountered in my life at an air show. While, I was able to shoot images for my assignment, the quality and the quantity were certainly compromised by weather and events. Perhaps next year it will better everyone and that includes me too.
Rating: 5 out of 10 Due to these reasons:
  • the weather
  • lack of proper organization
  • misinformation
  • some of the people who attended.
The highlight of the show was the Heritage Flight of the P-40E Warhawk with the F-16 Figthing Falcon.
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