There’s a place that’s turned the clock back in time, where you can not only see but hear the sounds of an era long past. It’s tucked away, just off the Virginia coast line in a little spot called Pungo. They have a grass strip runway among the trees, and some very well kept hangars with an amazing assortment of WWI and WWII era planes holed up inside. It’s the Military Aviation Museum.
The appeal of this place isn’t just the remarkable restorations or replicas that adorn the hangars, it’s the fact that they almost all fly and on special occasions you can hear the distinctive sounds of some of the most spectacular planes that ever graced the skies.
It’s home to one of the largest collection of flying warbirds in the world. It was founded in 2005. It’s mission is to “preserve, restore and fly these historic aircraft and to allow a new generation to experience and learn from what their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers might have endured on the lonely airfields and in the skies so very far from home.”
The museum’s founder is Gerald “Jerry” Yagen. He has been collecting and restoring warbirds since the mid 1990’s. The Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk was the one that began it all. Planes in the collection come from Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
This is my second year to attend the Warbirds over the Beach Airshow. I had such an amazing experience last year that I knew I’d be back again. There are so many wonderful and rare planes to see and hear. A chance to photograph some of these rare birds was enough to get me back for another look.
Rain kept the show from going off on Saturday this year, but Sunday cleared enough to get most of the planes in the air. Even with the rain, it was nice to get up close, and take a look at the planes while they were in the hangars or sitting on the ramp. There are several hangars to wander through and if you’re lucky, you’ll forget about the time and just enjoy talking to the wonderful docents that can give you some amazing historical facts about each of the aircraft.
This is the most intimate show I’ve attended. You can get right up to the planes and photograph them unobstructed in most cases. The rule is, “Just don’t touch the planes.” I think that’s a pretty fair trade to be able to observe these flying beauties up close and personal.
The museum is well worth the trip from anywhere to see this incredible collection. If you come for the Warbirds over the Beach Airshow, you’re in for quite the treat. Not only will you enjoy seeing the incredible collection of planes, you can watch them fly and hear the wonderful sound of humming engines fill the air. The grounds are graced with reenactors dressed in period clothing. They set up camp for the weekend and spend the night on site. There’s a hangar dinner and dance that follows the Saturday show, and well worth it to get to spend a little more quality time admiring the attractions.
It’s easy to get lost in time wandering through each hangar, admiring the beauty and strength that grace the ramps when you visit the Military Aviation Museum. So many memories, so much history adorn each inch of this place. It’s a trip back in time that I love every moment of the traveling.