Spring on the northern California coast is time for a gathering of vehicles with both wings and wheels. Rob Edgcumbe headed to Dream Machines for GAR to see what this year would bring.
Half Moon Bay on the Pacific coast a short distance south of San Francisco is a small town that is a peaceful change from the hustle of its neighbours just across the hills or further up the coast. It is home to a regional airport that usually plays host to a small but steady stream of local and visiting traffic. However, once a year, it holds a gathering designed to raise funds for the Coastside Adult Day Health Center.
Dream Machines combines the interests of aviation fans and car enthusiasts. It takes the large amount of hard standing space available to allow local (and some not quite so local) car enthusiasts to bring their vehicles of all types, while also inviting aircraft owners to fly in and put their machines on display. All types of aeroplanes come but a core of warbirds are at the heart of the display area.
For many years, the collection of warbirds owned by the Andreini family have anchored the display. Eddie Andreini was a fixture in the local warbird scene with his collection including a P-51 and a pair of Yaks. Sadly, Eddie died last year at Travis AFB while displaying in his Stearman. Tributes to Eddie were on display this year and a missing man formation was flown in his honour during the afternoon.
This year’s show was blessed with some excellent weather. While there was a steady breeze, the skies were clear and the temperatures very comfortable. This was a good sign. The 2014 show had suffered as a result of clouds over the surrounding hills. While the show had been clear, visiting aircraft were inhibited by the nearby cloud coverage. It was hoped that this year would bring a larger selection of visiting planes; sadly, that didn’t seem to be the case with an interesting but not huge selection of types on display.
Dream Machines is not an airshow so there is not a display box, and no routines are flown. However, there are parts of the day when a series of flybys are performed by the warbirds. There is also a display put on by some RC pilots. They demonstrated some excellent flying skills and some great looking models – I had not expected to have an F-22 Raptor or a Rafale performing at this event! The gusty winds did not inhibit the flying performance but landing the models was a touch more tricky. The Raptor demonstrated some interesting PIO before it “touched down”, but the damage is apparently relatively easily fixed!
The warbirds on display included a nice selection of P-51 Mustangs, a couple of Yak-9s, a Yak-11, some T-6s, a T-28 and a B-25 that was particularly popular in the static park. A couple of Travel Airs were doing steady business taking people up for pleasure flights, as were a pair of Robinson R-44s that seemed to be constantly running routes around the bay. The attendance numbers appeared to be very high as a result of the great weather so the customers for the flights were in strong supply.
The warbird flybys took place in the middle of the day, which was a little earlier in the day than last year. The runway is aligned roughly north-south which means everything is more backlit in the afternoon. The slightly earlier timing meant the light was marginally better. However, it did catch out those who like to head outside in the afternoon to shoot from the road that runs parallel to the airfield. The B-25 was the first to go up and make its three passes. It was followed by the T-6s with the P-51s and Yaks going up last. They ended their passes with a four-ship undertaking a missing man formation in honour of Eddie Andreini.
The good weather and popularity of the day did have one unfortunate side effect. Access to Half Moon Bay is not designed for very large volumes of traffic. Consequently, as things wound up around 1600, the traffic rapidly became clogged. Whether you went north or south from the field, the lines were long. Fortunately, most people seemed patient enough and things eventually moved out.
Dream Machines is a fun way to start the US airshow season. It is a relatively low-key event from an aviation perspective but always has something interesting to see and, if the weather is good, it makes for a nice day to stroll between some cool cars and planes.