2013-08-16 / Family

Pilots prepare for takeoff in ‘warbirds’

Annual Camarillo Air Show this weekend
By Stephanie Guzman


FLIGHT PREP—Pilot Gary Barber, 77, installs a new seat cushion in a 1948 F8F Bearcat on Aug. 13. He’s flown the plane for more than 20 years. He was fixing it up in preparation for the Camarillo Air Show this weekend. He also repaired the brakes and will clean the canopy and dust the plane just before the show. 
IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers FLIGHT PREP—Pilot Gary Barber, 77, installs a new seat cushion in a 1948 F8F Bearcat on Aug. 13. He’s flown the plane for more than 20 years. He was fixing it up in preparation for the Camarillo Air Show this weekend. He also repaired the brakes and will clean the canopy and dust the plane just before the show. IRIS SMOOT/Acorn Newspapers Gary Barber loved to make model airplanes as a boy. For Barber, the miniature fighter planes made him feel connected to his father, Stanley Barber, who was away from the family’s Michigan home to serve at an Army base in California during World War II.

The elder Barber, who died in 1975, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during the war. He later became a private pilot, often taking his son on flights above the Grand Rapids in Michigan.

“It was quite a bit of fun being a kid way up high and looking down,” said Gary Barber, a Ventura resident who developed a love for flying that turned into a 31-year career as a commercial pilot.

After the family moved to California in the early 1950s, the younger Barber enlisted in the Air National Guard in Orange County and served in the Air Force. In 1965, Barber became a commercial pilot with American Airlines and flew throughout North America for more than three decades.

“I mainly flew in the Americas from Canada to Mexico and saw a lot of nice sites but more hotels than I ever want to see,” Barber said. “It was a good life.”

Barber’s passion for aviation continued into his retirement. He has volunteered for Camarillo’s Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force Aviation Museum for 22 years.

As part of his volunteer work, he will be one of six pilots to fly World War II fighter planes in formation during the 37th annual Wings Over Camarillo air show this weekend.

The two-day show takes place Aug. 17 and 18 at the Camarillo Airport. The event includes daily acrobatic plane performances, food and a chance to take photos near the historical and experimental planes and to meet the pilots.

The show is run by volunteers from the Wings Over Camarillo Association, the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 723 and the Ventura County 99s.

All profits benefit programs to encourage the next generation of pilots and plane mechanics.

Michael Greywitt, the air show’s spokesperson, said the annual show is a great way to bring together multiple generations because the event features vintage planes and military veterans.

“People have the chance to talk to the real heroes that flew these aircrafts in WWII and Vietnam,” Greywitt said.

Norm Hall, vice president of the Wings Over Camarillo Association, said the show is a history lesson for those who may not be familiar with the history of the Camarillo Airport.

The airport was used as a local airport and a military base. It became Oxnard Air Force Base in 1942 and was home to a P-38 squadron during World War II.

The airstrip became the Camarillo Airport in the 1970s and is a busy regional airport with a strong community, Hall said.

The air show, which begins at noon, includes more than 80 planes that will perform aerobatic dives and turns. Historic and custom planes will also be in the air during the performance.

On the ground, children will meet the Ventura County Sheriff’s search and rescue team and can sit in the team’s helicopter.

Spectators can also fly in one of three fighter planes used in the second world war. Aircraft rides offered by the association range from $250 to $1,200, and reservations should be made in advance.

Tickets for the show are $15 and include parking. Children 12 and younger can enter for free. For more information and to buy tickets online, visit http://WingsOverCamarillo.com.

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