By Tom Christian
The Bikes and Bombers VII bike show was Saturday, August 18th at Lyon Air Museum, located at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA. The day started for me with a 73.8 mile ride there, in 74.3 degree temps with a 111.6 percent chance of having a blast. I was not let down with that prediction as the day rolled on. Getting ready to take pictures of the event, I thought about all the different categories or other classifications that might be associated with this bike show. There was a little shock when I was told how this bike show works, very different than other shows.
There were about 200 bikes registered for this event and the officials pick out 25 of the bikes that might lean toward what the people attending would like. Then, this show was voted by people’s choice, including children, for two awards only: the runner-up and the winner. The winner receives the grand prize of a super ride in an old T-6 Navy trainer plane, and the runner-up goes home to try again next year. This seemed way too simple, but was very exciting to watch. There were so many cool bikes a lot of us have never seen before, that put us at awe.
Waiting for the votes to be counted there was time to check out the vendors and grab something to eat or drink but the big item for me was that magnificent museum housing treasures of our past history that keep everybody’s eyes going crazy with amazement. While doing a live video with Mark Foster the President of the Lyon Air Museum which sponsored the Bikes and Bombers show, I was put back a few feet when I walked through those doors leading into this big beautiful museum. I just do not know where to begin, there were way too many things that caught my eyes all at one time; so let me just take one thing at a time.
The B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber was the first big thing that caught my eye; it was so big and beautiful all shined up ready to be in a movie. Then there was a 1942 airline flagship along with a smaller plane (Cessna L-19/01) they called the Bird Dog, a US Army observation plane that was also loaned to France’s military, that was used in Korea and Vietnam.
There were a few sidecar motorcycles from Russia and Germany along with one from Japan that almost looks like it has a Harley-Davidson motor in it. Before World War II, Harley-Davidson was over in Japan doing a joint project with Japanese businessmen and then had to get out, leaving all their tools and dies right there as the war started. So the Japanese could make motors that mimicked H-Ds.
The coolest was a 1939 G-4 Mercedes-Benz, a German 3-axle off-road vehicle originally owned by Adolf Hitler, that the French captured as a war trophy, and this thing is in mint condition. To keep things interesting there were a couple of Indy 500 race cars with lots of history behind them; both bear number 48 from 1968 and 1972, the Dan Gurney Mystery Eagle. But the one thing I wanted to really check out was that T-6 Navy trainer that the winner will get one hell of a ride in.
Back out front checking out all the vendors I saw the Injured Warrior Ride booth where I had to go thank them for what they’re doing and their service. This year was the first for having a food vendor but they also still had donuts and coffee available for all to enjoy. Orange County Harley-Davidson was there along with Irv Seaver BMW, next to Ducati and Triumph of Newport Beach.
Another very cool booth, British Motorcycle Restoration Specialist, had Triumph classic motorcycles. I enjoyed what they did to make us old guys relive the days of our youth, 1960 through 1970. They restore old bikes from our past with upgrades to give them better handling, power and reliability, while retaining their original factory look. These bikes were torn down to the frame and totally redone from the ground up.
If you want to take a friend up in the sky and have a real dog fight with a trainer fighter plane, that was here also. Air Combat USA had two planes ready with laser guns and missiles to do simulated battle just like a real training exercise. www.aircombat.com
The three bikes that had a lot of us going crazy were: (1) a double engine Triumph; (2) a 1921 Megola, a German-made bike with a rotary engine in the front wheel; and (3) a fully restored 1956 Messerschmitt KR200 that the proud owner has had for ten years. It is amazing that there were so many antique motorcycles that still run, at this one show.
The time was coming to announce the winner and the runner-up to see who was going to get that ride in the T-6 Navy trainer airplane. Event coordinators Jade and Corrin were still counting the votes with Mark Foster reading winning ticket numbers to hand out the raffle items, from T-shirts to gift cards, supplied by the vendors.
Everybody was getting excited to know the winner of the bike show, and it was finally time. Mark Greeley was runner-up with his 1921 Megola. The Grand Prize winner was Eugene Garcin with his 1929 BMW R63 that was only produced for two years (1928 to 1929) with only 794 units made. In 1929 BMW used a super charged R63 engine to get the world speed record at 133 MPH.
Eugene’s first place win at Bikes & Bombers gave him the opportunity to fulfill a dream of his to fly in a World War II plane. I asked him why this was so important to him, and he told me an amazing story. His father, Eugene Sr., flew in WWII first with the French air force, then served with the British RAF as a rear gunner on a bomber and was shot down; he spent the next three and half years in a POW camp until they were liberated. God bless him. Wow, what a day.
Then it was time for the crew to get that T-6 Navy trainer out of the hangar and do a preflight check, signing all the proper paperwork. We all could feel the excitement with the winner and his family. Everybody was very happy and excited for him and we all cheered him on, waved and got some photos as they took off and flew over the hanger. This was my first time at this airport and the Bikes and Bombers show. I hope this is only the first of many opportunities for me to enjoy this wonderful event.
Learn more about the Lyon Air Museum at www.lyonairmuseum.org
–-See more photos and video at www.QuickThrottle.com !