applicant wishes to obtain Special Exception approval:
SPEX06-CR-007: A Category 21 Special Exception to Allow for
the Construction of New Facilities; and
SPEX06-CR-006: A Category 9 Special Exception to Allow for
The primary purposes of this Special Exception request is to
allow the construction of new facilities at the Flying
Circus Aerodrome, and to clearly define present and future
(proposed) activities. The site currently contains grass
runways, hangars, a gift shop and a concession stand.
The Flying Circus has an existing Special Permit that was
approved in 1971. This permit authorizes all existing
air-show and related museum and gift-shop activities.
However, it does not allow for expansion or construction of
new buildings or uses. In addition, the Zoning Ordinance
requirements for this use have changed since the Special
Permit was approved. The use now requires a Special
Exception approval under Section 10-101 of the Zoning
According to the applicant, the Flying Circus is one of the
last examples of a highly popular form of entertainment of
yesteryear: barnstorming. It operates from May through
October. Vintage planes do precision aerobatic flying shows
including stunt flying, wing walking, sky diving, and more.
Biplane and Piper Cub rides are available before and after
the shows. A concession stand offers snacks and a gift shop
sells souvenirs. Many of our patrons enjoy a picnic lunch
in the shady grove adjacent to the spectator area before the
Some of the activities that occur at the site today are not
covered under the original Special Permit approval. These
activities include the non-aircraft related events, such as
the antique car shows, tractor shows, balloon festival,
educational events, and camping. These activities are
requested to be brought into compliance through approval of
the Category 9 Special Exception (for events).
Proposed New Uses & Activities:
Construction will focus on public restrooms to utilize the
new wastewater treatment plant currently nearing completion,
an open Pavilion for Boy Scout and community activities
(such as picnics or educational tours for students, scouts,
etc.), and a new gift shop to replace a temporary
structure. Then, as funding permits, a museum for the
display of Flying Circus memorabilia and aircraft, and an
additional six hangars for aircraft flown in the show will
be constructed. The applicant also requests an indefinite,
or unconditional time-frame for this Special Exception.
The architectural style of the new buildings will be in
keeping with the theme and old-style appearance of existing
structures, as was done with a new snack bar constructed
Crowds vary with the weather, but typically run about
250-300 attendees (60-75 vehicles) on any given Sunday for
an air show, to well over a thousand attendees (250
vehicles) for special events like the 2-day Volkswagen
Owner‘s Club Show, and the annual BalloonFest.
The following is a list of proposed Special Events; all of
which will take place in the 10 or 12-acre open areas
defined on the plat as ‘Activity areas’:
BalloonFest. This is a 3-day event held early
in the season, with participants arriving and setting up on
Friday evening, and departing by Sunday afternoon. This
event draws the largest crowds, typically 1200 or so over
three days, with many participants staying at local motels.
A similar, smaller event, a one-day hot-air balloon rally is
usually held in the fall each year.
Car Club and Motorcycle shows. Several of
these are held each year during the season and are mostly
one-day events held on Sundays as a special feature in
addition to an air show. Enthusiasts bring their
motorcycles or antique cars out to display and compete for
prizes and trophies. At the end of the show, a motorcade
occurs around the show grounds, since owners often want a
picture taken of their vehicle next to one of our biplanes.
Boy Scout Camporees or Camping. Three or four
events are hosted each year, with as many as four or five
hundred Scouts and Leaders camped on the property for two
nights. During this time, aircraft and crews are available
to conduct Aviation Merit Badge seminars. Except for one
Camporee usually held at the end of April, all of these
events occur during the regular season (May through
October). Camping may also be done by smaller scout, church
or youth groups.
Tractor Shows. These are typically a one or
two-day event, with perhaps 300 spectators, and static
Radio-Controlled (RC) Model Airplane Meets.
The aerodrome is a popular gathering place for RC modelers
to meet, fly their planes on Saturday, and then watch the
show on Sunday. One or two of these RC meets is held each
year during the season, drawing crowds of around 500
Antique Airplane Fly-ins. One annual event per
year shall be permitted for up to 50 antique planes. Pilots
must provide proof of insurance in advance to the Flying
Circus Airshow, Inc., and these records shall be kept on
file on site. This event may have up to 2500 attendees.
Pilots may camp onsite.
Additional Events. These are planned and will
be centered on the pavilion. These include; church group
gatherings (such as picnics or meetings); civic association
and school group meetings; company picnics; educational
tours (for school groups, etc.); and perhaps an occasional
Attendees at the aforementioned “additional events” would
not exceed 300, with the educational tours and civic, school
or church events likely to have a much smaller number of
attendees. Educational tours would be by appointment and
occur between Monday and Friday to coincide with school
schedules. The other events would generally occur on
Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Air shows remain the primary focus of the Flying Circus and
these additional events would occur during off-peak times so
as not to disrupt the air show schedule. At this time, the
applicant does not request to schedule any of these events
outside of our regular show season.
The applicant notes that in discussions with VDOT, that the
existing gravel access roads and grass parking areas
are considered adequate for the foreseeable future. At some
point the traffic may eventually require a dustless surface
waiver, however that is not applicable at this time.
Schedule: Air shows run every Sunday afternoon from May
through October. The gates open at 11:00 o’clock, the show
runs from 2:30 to around 4:00, and attendees can ‘hop rides’
after the show until the last happy customer is gone,
usually by 7PM or so.
The Flying Circus has operated for thirty-five years, under
the watchful eye of the FAA (Federal Aviation
Administration). The applicant states that all of their
pilots are skilled veterans, most with many decades of
flying experience and the requisite FAA pilot licenses and
insurance covering participation at air shows. The aircraft
are maintained to rigid requirements, and are inspected by
the FAA every year. The Airshow is an all-volunteer
organization; it takes about forty (40) volunteers to put on
the show. The Flying Circus also is a non-profit (501 (C)