By using that term, he’s expressing the hope — and the confidence — that the first edition of the Great New England Wings & Wheels event, slated for August 24 and 25 at Westover Metropolitan Airport, will be a bridge between the massive air shows staged over the past several decades at Westover Air Reserve Base and Barnes Municipal Airport in Westfield, and the ones to come in the future.
There won’t be any of those shows for the immediate future, said Shuback, president of the Galaxy Community Council, the charitable organization that has assisted the 439th Airlift Wing based at Westover and other military-related groups for more than 20 years, noting that federal budget sequestration has eliminated the use of military aircraft — and facilities — for such events.
So, in an effort to carry out its work within the community, which includes support to groups ranging from the Pioneer Valley USO to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, the Galaxy Council has retooled with Wings & Wheels, an event that will likely enable it to raise more money to support those aforementioned groups.Indeed, as Shuback explained, the council was not able to charge admission to the air shows, because they were staged on military installations, and thus relied much more on corporate sponsorships. It can, however, charge at the gate at Westover Metropolitan, and will do so ($10 for adults; children will be admitted free). With 20,000 or more people expected, this could be a highly successful fund-raiser.
While Wings & Wheels will not feature acts like the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds, or the array of active military aircraft typical at previous air shows, it will have plenty to see, hear, and experience, said Shuback.
As the name suggests, there will be wings — static vintage and modern aircraft that will include several World War II-era models such as a B-25 Mitchell bomber, P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, TBM Avenger, and P-47 Thunderbolt, and several more modern planes.
And there will be wheels; indeed, more than 1,000 show cars are expected, representing every decade from the 1920s to the ’80s.
“This is a unique event that approximates an air show,” said Shuback, adding that Wings & Wheels represents the only chance area residents will have to see vintage aircraft because sequestration has resulted in the cancellation of all air shows in New England.
For more information on the event, visit www.greatnewenglandwingsandwheels.com.