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Burbank Air Show Poised for Takeoff

November 12, 1988|PETER FREY

The Twilight Zone has set up shop in Burbank for the weekend. It's open to the public, costs only $3 to get in, and once you stop looking around corners for Rod Serling, the entire family is in for an experience that's as educational as it is entertaining.

Today and Sunday, two eras will coexist on the runways of Burbank Airport. World War II fighter planes will roar into the air alongside Boeing 737s; men who flew and fought in a world at war will smile at a child's question, and anyone with the slightest sense of history will be able to see and touch a time machine, or at least a machine from another time.

And this coming together of history at Burbank Airport is entirely appropriate. Built in 1930, it served as Los Angeles' main air terminal for 16 years--until Los Angeles International Airport came into service. And during World War II, the aircraft-manufacturing firms located at the airport built many of the military planes used in the war. It's entirely likely, in fact, that many of the planes participating in the second annual Burbank Air Show actually will be coming home.

"This will be one of the largest air shows west of the Mississippi," said Barry Silva of Martin Aviation, the show's principal sponsor (along with Haagen-Dazs ice cream, 5th Avenue Seltzer and Domino's Pizza). "We'll have 81 planes from the World War II era, from bombers to fighter planes, including the only Japanese Zero still flying," he said.

Something for Everyone

There will be mock air battles; low-level, high-speed fly-bys; historical displays; tours of the airplanes and experts on hand to answer questions. For those always up for a new thrill, rides will be offered in a helicopter, open-cockpit Stearman biplane or a DC-3, affectionately known as a Gooney Bird, for between $20 and $30. Proceeds benefit the Burbank school system.

Displayed side by side with the historical planes will be a variety of modern aircraft from gliders to helicopters, as well as a pair of F-14 Tomcats (like those Tom Cruise flew in "Top Gun") and an F-18 Hornet (the plane used by the Blue Angels).

Other World War II machinery on display includes Jeeps, halftracks, German staff cars and even a Sherman tank, like the ones that Gen. George Patton drove into the history books. There also will be automobiles, but because no new cars were built in the United States during the war, classics from the '50s and '60s will be shown.

Although the show opens officially today, a symbolic flight had been scheduled Friday as a show preview. "Sentimental Journey," one of the few surviving Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, was slated to make a flight over the ocean, where several P-51 fighters would join the flight and escort it back to Burbank Airport.

On Thursday, while landing on its flight from Phoenix, the 1944 B-17G's brakes failed, and the plane crashed into a fence near the end of the runway. No injuries were reported. The aircraft will be on display during the show, but damages to its wing and fuselage preclude its flying demonstration.

Today and Sunday

The entrance to Martin Aviation and the viewing area is at the corner of Clybourn Avenue and Sherman Way on the northwest side of Burbank Airport. The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday. Parking at Martin Aviation and along Clybourn Avenue is free, with periodic shuttle service from Clybourn and the parking lot. There will be no air-show parking or shuttle service from the airport terminal building. For information, call (818) 843-8311.

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