Enjoy planes, cars and swing dancing this Saturday in Heber City
The Park Record
This Saturday, Aug. 6, World War II-era planes will be on display alongside classic cars of all eras at the Commemorative Air Force Classic Car and Plane Show. The event, organized by the Utah Wing of the Commemorative Air Force and held at the CAF Museum at the Heber City Municipal Airport, will begin at 9 a.m. and run until 3 p.m. The Utah Wing’s James Humpherys said this is their second show of this kind.
“Last year we did a Mustang Roundup where we brought in a P-51 Mustang for a photo-op, and of course we had a predominant showing of [Ford] Mustangs,” he said. “This year we will have another selection of warbirds, the PV-2 Harpoon, T-6 Texan, PT-17 Stearman, and Beech 18.”
Humpherys said organizing a car and aircraft show seemed like a natural complement.
“Cars and planes are two icons of Americana that sort of grew up together, if you will,” he said. “Since the dawn of the 20th century both have captured our imagination, and in many cases their histories have intertwined.”
Hotshot racecar driver Eddie Rickenbacker, Humpherys said, became one of the most celebrated aviators of World War I. During World War II, American car companies like Ford and General Motors used their factories to build planes for the war effort.
“In the ’50s car culture really took off, and a car design feature that was in vogue at that time were these big fins that were supposedly inspired by aviation design and were supposed to give the car a sleek, aerodynamic look,” Humpherys said. “So you have an intertwined history, and you’ll often find that car guys and aviation guys are one and the same.”
That 1950s feel will be present Saturday in more than just the cars and the planes. The day will culminate with a Swing dance at 7 p.m. featuring The Danny Newell All-Star Big Band.
“We always get a lot of people who come in vintage dress, and that in combination with the planes and cars really helps to bring back the nostalgia of a classic era,” he said. “I thought the car show and ’50s-themed dance went well together, since ’50s rock ‘n’ roll music is what you hear at just about every car show, and it is also very popular swing music — think Elvis, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, etc.”
Last year’s Mustang Roundup drew 80 cars and Humpherys said they are hopeful the air and car show and the dance will be even bigger this year.
“We’ve added some flare to both events to get people talking about the shows,” he said. “This time we will have a professional photo-op in front of the planes and cars for those who come in vintage dress. We will also have a swing lesson by instructors from DF Dance Studio in Salt Lake City. Often people come to our dances and tell me they wish they knew how to dance, so I started bringing out instructors.”
Of course the festivities aren’t just about having a good time. The Utah Wing is home to several vintage aircraft, and it takes time and money to keep them in good condition and flight-ready.
“Whenever we do events like these we are trying to raise funds to keep these historic aircraft flying,” he said. “There is a lot of effort and money that goes into maintaining the aircraft, and unfortunately the effort has to survive on donations. Eventually all these World War II aircraft are going to become museum displays, so we are hoping to keep them flying as long as possible. These events are what makes the difference.”
Humpherys said events that draw big crowds are special for the Museum’s members, too, because it gives them a chance to share their love for the aircraft with lots of visitors.
“We all join this organization and dedicate a lot of our time because we have a passion for preserving history and carrying it on to the next generation,” he said. “We love to see parents bring their kids out, and we especially love having the veterans out to share their stories. Whenever we get the big crowds and we get the share the history we have a good feeling that we’re making a difference.
“These aircraft and the veterans we bring out were a part of the largest and most defining conflict in human history, so it cannot be forgotten.”
Seeing the aircraft up close and speaking to veterans who served during WWII is a rare opportunity Humpherys said people shouldn’t pass up.
“I do think personally that it is one thing to read about World War II facts in a book or learn about it through a documentary, and it is another experience entirely to delve into the airmen’s personal stories and to see artifacts of the war up close and personal,” he said. “The stories and personal effects add a much more human element to the learning experience.”
<i>Those who wish to register their car for the show can still do so, and Humpherys said registration will likely be open right up to the start of the event. Registration cost ranges from $15-$65. For more information, visit CAFUtahWing.org.</i>
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