Annual Blakesburg Fly-In shows off the golden age of aviation

Clay Adams' 1929 Travel Air 4000 carries thousands of passengers for rides each year.

Each year, hundreds of antique airplanes fill the skies of Southeast Iowa for the annual Antique Airplane Association's Airpower Museum Invitational Fly-In.

Flyers come from across the country for the event, including Clay Adams of Rosemount, Minnesota. Adams is the director of the American Barnstormers, a group of 12-14 aircrafts dated from 1928-1937. Their flyers recognize the era from the end of World War I to the start of World War II as the golden age of aviation, and they aim to introduce their passion to others by taking bi-annual flying tours around the country.

"I basically spend my life in this aircraft and when I'm not doing this, I'm flying for the airlines, so I feel at home in an open cockpit," Adams said. "For someone to come out and experience that, it's a thrill that they'll never forget."

Adams is the owner of a 1929 Travel Air 4000, which was built in Wichita, Kansas and he purchased in 1995. He modeled the American Barnstormers after the Gates Flying Circus, that did similar flying tours in the 1920s and disbanded in the 1930s. No group of airplanes did anything similar since, and Adams felt like it was time to re-start a tradition.

They've been on their 2012 tour for a month and Adams said each one, and every city they visit, is special for a different reason. One of his most memorable flights was carrying Jimmy Doolittle's first officer from the Doolittle Raid during a stop in South Dakota.

Adams has come to Blakesburg every year, and he said one of the best parts about events like the Fly-In is getting the entire community of passionate flyers together. He said many of the pilots are pilot mechanics, who are dedicated to keeping their machines well maintained and in perfect condition.

"We don't classify these planes as aircrafts," Adams said. "They're history - they take you back in time."

For more on the American Barnstormers,

visit their website


The Airpower Museum Invitational Fly-In runs through September 3rd this year, and for more information,

click here