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Final preparations under way for Barnstormers

An era known as the “Golden Age of Aviation” will be saluted Sunday, Monday and Tuesday as final preparations are made at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport for the American Barnstormers Tour.

Fourteen restored vintage aircraft from the 1920s and 1930s will be displayed as part of a five-city tour of Midwestern states during August. Brainerd will be the only Minnesota stop on a tour that includes North Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois this month.

Mike Petersen, the local volunteer organizer of the event, was singled for doing an “incredible job” by Airport Commissioner Beth Pfingsten at Tuesday’s Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission meeting.

“The planning is done,” Petersen said at Tuesday’s meeting. “The rubber meets the road now. We do believe we are going to have one whale of an event.”

He said dry-run tests of the communications systems have been conducted with the Civil Air Patrol cadets who will assist at the family event. Petersen encouraged airport commissioners to attend the three-day tour and a hangar party on Thursday night to thank the many sponsors and volunteers who have helped with the project. Petersen said sponsors have donated $13,000 to this event.

The tour aircraft will be on display from approximately 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weather permitting) each of the three days. Barnstormers participate in recreating the era with period costumes, aircraft signs and historical information. Each day the aircraft will take to the skies for the Barnstormers Parade of Flight with EAA Radio personality Jeff Montgomery serving as master of ceremonies.

Spectators may experience flying in an open cockpit. Biplane rides will be available each day, weather permitting. The cost is $70 per person for the 15-minute flight.

Admission and parking at the American Barnstormers Tour is free.

More information on the American Barnstormers is available at More information on the Brainerd event may be obtained by calling Petersen at (612) 750-2981 or emailing

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860