Latest Articles Appearing On Classic Warbirds..

Warbirds Nest in Anchorage

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Alaska has quite a number of warbirds that still earn their keep carrying freight and passengers. If you spend a few days around Alaskan airports, you’ll hear and see retired military transports such as Douglas C-118 Liftmasters (DC-6), C-47/R4D/C-117 Skytrains (DC-3), DHC U-6/L-20 Beavers, and even the odd Curtiss C-46 Commando. Imagine my surprise though when I drove by the ramp at Anchorage’s Merrill Field and spied a few trainers and even a fighter in the distance.

Honestly, the first airplane that caught my attention wasn’t a warbird at all, but a bright orange, rather ungainly-looking monoplane – Alaska Air Museum’s American Airplane and Engine Pilgrim 100B, still wearing its original NC709Y registration. After hastily (and carefully, I might add…) reversing course, I pulled into a parking lot and there sat a number of warbirds near the Pilgrim; a pair of silver T-6s, a yellow Harvard, and – wait – was that a Zero replica? Looking closer, I was amazed to gaze upon an actual Mitsubishi Zero. As I walked up to the chain link fence, a pilot driving through an exit gate mentioned that I could probably get on the ramp for photos if I asked someone inside the adjacent hangar. And so I did, and the door opened for me to the Wings of Freedom Alaska Flying Museum.

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Reading, PA WWII Weekend

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“Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”   President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke those immortal words nearly seventy-three years ago and again, reenacted by Delmas P. Wood, in Reading, PA in remembrance of World War Two.

The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum holds its annual World War II Weekend and Air Show the first weekend in June.  This year marked the Museum’s twenty-fourth annual show and the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  The three day event is all authentic, featuring more than 1,700 WWII military and civilian re-enactors along with hundreds of encampments representing nations that were involved in “The War”.  For three days the gates open at 8:30 am to the nation’s largest and best known historic commemoration of life in 1940’s America.   The weekend was dedicated to the “Greatest Generation” not to glorify, but to remember the war.  Strolling the concrete walk and taxiways to the sound of music from the times, weekend visitors mingled with men and women attired in period dress along with meticulously restored farm equipment and bicycles.  While “the boys” were overseas fighting fascism, the home front was holding its own.  Authentic displays included a correctly recreated 1940’s house decorated with food stuffs and household items, and a fully stocked department store selling period goods.  Museum quality vintage cars were lined up with gas ration cards in hand at the fully restored visible pump Gulf filling station.  “Flo” was in uniform, cheerfully providing full service including checking your oil and washing the windshield.  Continuing on, sightseers passed by an air raid warden’s station and a pile of scrap metal collected for the war effort.  Listening to a live radio broadcast from the studio of “WRDG”, appropriately clad youngsters were busy playing board games, rolling by on skates and playing jacks or shooting marbles.  And everywhere, the Red Cross was eagerly collecting donations.

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Naval Aviation Heritage on Display in Rhode Island

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The Quonset Air Museum is housed in one of the last surviving buildings of what once was the mightiest Naval Air Station (NAS) in the northeastern U.S.. The hangar was originally used as a paint shop for reconditioned aircraft; today part of it acts as a repair and restoration facility for the all-volunteer museum staff as they rebuild and maintain almost two dozen former military aircraft. Before we take a closer look at the aircraft collection, here’s some of the rich history that surrounds the area.

The need for a large northeastern U.S. naval air station was identified as early as the 1920s, but one wasn’t commissioned until just a few months prior to the beginning of World War II. NAS Quonset Point was built on the shores of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, taking advantage of a naturally deep channel for a port. Initially, the base hosted aircraft which flew “neutrality” patrols, housed training and aircraft maintenance functions, and readied itself to receive locally-based aircraft carriers. When war was declared, the base gained an anti-submarine mission, more training aircraft arrived and a heavily-tasked Overhaul and Repair (O & R) aircraft maintenance depot evolved. Throughout the war, these functions kept the base running in excess of 100% of its pre-war planned capacity.

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Kaman’s Huskie: An Early First Responder

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Kaman’s H-43 Huskie helicopter was designed shortly after World War II, and served American military branches through the mid-1970s.  Training and utility roles came first, but the important service of aircrew rescue for the U.S. Air Force stands out, especially during the early 1960s through the end of the Viet Nam war.  The HH-43 enabled the USAF’s Air Rescue Service to carry out its motto “That Others May Live” almost daily in Viet Nam.  In fact, Huskies were involved with more Air Force rescues in Southeast Asia than any other helicopter type.

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