Between 40 and 50 airplanes from around the country are expected to arrive in Hagerstown for the annual Wilbur Wright Fly-in, and area residents are invited to see them up close. 

Hagerstown Optimist Club organizes the event, which is scheduled for Tuesday, July 16, at Hagerstown Airport, 999 S. Washington St. The rain date is the following day.

Admission and parking are free. 

The public is invited to begin entering anytime after 2 p.m. Around 6 p.m., all the participating planes should have landed and positioned themselves for visitors to browse. Guests are invited to spend as much time as they’d like before the event ends around 9:30 or 10 p.m.   

The planes, most of which were made before 1947, are on their way to Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Oshkosh, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which is home to the EAA Aviation Museum. 

EAA’s Wisconsin event begins Monday, July 22, and ends Sunday, July 28. It typically attracts more than 600,000 people and 10,000 airplanes each year. 

Denny Burns, who helps with the show as part of the Optimists, said it’s possible that Hagerstown’s event might be the nation’s second-largest gathering for vintage aircraft.

At 4,000 feet, Burns said Hagerstown has the “longest, flattest and smoothest grass airstrip in the U.S.,” which helps attract visitors. 

Although Hagerstown’s fly-in doesn’t feature performers offering aerobatics and demonstrations like June’s CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show, Burns said sometimes one or two biplane pilots will offer rides.

Beyond airplanes, Hagerstown’s event does offer hospitality services to make guests’ visits as comfortable as possible. 

A food court will offer concessions ranging from ice cream and other snacks to drinks and dinner options. Optimist volunteers will sell food to help fund the club’s scholarships, and area food trucks will be on site too.

Kids can enjoy a bounce house, and guests can seek relief from the sun under various tents if needed.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own seating.  

Golf cart rides are available for those who could use assistance moving from their vehicles to get up close to the planes.

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A version of this article appeared in the July 10 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.