Military history highlighted at Wings & Wheels festival

Panchito, a B-25 bomber, will be on hand at the Wings & Wheels festival at the Delaware Coastal Airport throughout the weekend. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — The history of coastal Fort Miles and the Georgetown airport through living history encampment and re-enactment is among the showcase features at this weekend’s Wings & Wheels festival.

A festival tradition, members of the Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association will be set up near the main spectator entrance at the Delaware Coastal Airport, offering information, insight, displays and military vehicles, weapons, tents and equipment.

This year, the military focus is on Fort Miles, including its role during World War II up to the Vietnam War, as well as some history on military ties to the Georgetown airport, now the Delaware Coastal Airport, owned by Sussex County.

Mike Corbin will have a small display on airport and its ties to U.S. Navy as a naval training base. The airport also served in a role with Civil Air Patrol.

Wings & Wheels runs Friday and Saturday with Saturday’s event spanning six hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A dinner show Friday will play out to the 50th anniversary of Woodstock tribute, featuring Kathie Martin and Hot Rods.

Special Wings & Wheels guest for the entire festival is Brigadier Gen. (USAF Ret.) Charles McGee, an honored fighter pilot with the famed Tuskegee Airmen.

Events at the airport throughout Wings & Wheels Saturday include a vintage aircraft fly-in, classic car show, featured speakers, live entertainment and craft and food vendors.

Ezra Rickards cranks up his Stearman trainer at Wings & Wheels 2018.

Opening ceremonies set for 10 a.m. Saturday will feature the national anthem and presentation of colors by the Sussex Central ROTC Color Guard.

Rides will be available for purchase on aircraft, including a helicopter from J & J Helair Helicopter rides and other planes, including Panchito, a B-25 bomber.

Back for an encore Wings & Wheels performance is the Glass Onion band, which will play from noon to 4 p.m. near food vendor area.

Georgetown Boys & Girls Club will provide activities for kids.

About a dozen to 15 food vendors are anticipated.

Spectator parking is at Sussex Academy on Airport Road, with overflow parking at Sterling Square Shopping Center. Cost is $5 per car.

Shuttle service – either the Nanticoke Indian Tribe trams or buses – will shuttle folks back and forth. Pickup and dropoff are both at Sussex Academy.

In conjunction with the festival, the town of Georgetown will close Railroad Avenue and Airport Road around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Some attractions of informational and educational interest provided by the Harbor Defenses of the Delaware Living History Association include a motor pool manned by living history member Mike Asplen, plotting for enemy submarines or vessels, and a chaplain’s corps manned by Mike Hills, chaplain for the HDDLHA, that features numerous authentic artifacts and gear from World War II.

New this year is a new M-34 tent made by the same company that manufactured tents during World War II.

The encampment area will feature a small cooking area as re-enactors do not order out for delivery.

Upward of a dozen vehicles, including jeeps and others will be on site. One is a M274 Mule, a vehicle introduced in 1956 featuring a recoilless rifle, courtesy of Randy and Charlie Brinker of Berlin, Maryland.

Up in the air

From Pathways to Aviation Day Friday morning to popular flour bombing and precision jumps by the United States Naval Academy Parachute Team Saturday, Delaware Coastal Airport will also be a hub for aircraft/aviation attractions on the ground and in the air.

Panchito, a B-25 bomber owned by Larry Kelley and the Delaware Aviation Museum, and aircraft owned by Ezra Richards are part of the aircraft showcase. They are housed at hangar homes at the airport.

At Wings & Wheels Brig. Gen. McGee will be reunited with the two familiar aircraft: a B-25 Mitchell bomber, Panchito, and Rosalie, a P-51 Mustang owned by Ezra Rickards.

Brig. Gen. McGee will be the keynote speaker at the Pathways to Aviation Program Friday morning for high school students, a featured guest at Friday’s dinner show, and be available for photos and questions at the Panchito booth during Saturday’s car show and fly-in.

Pathways to Aviation kicks things off with a three-hour from 9 a.m. to noon Friday.

Upward of 125 high school students will spend the day at the airport learning from aviation experts. Students will meet with representatives from local colleges, employers and more as they delve into what it means to begin a career in the aviation field.

The elite Navy Midshipmen are coming back for another show at Wings & Wheels. If weather permits, the team will make periodic jumps about every one and a half hours or so.

Another attraction is the fun-filled flour bombing competition, in which pilots/crews take aim at a target on a grassy portion of the airport grounds. The bombing is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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