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What Does American Air Power and the Declaration of Independence Have In Common?

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What? The United States recently celebrated 241 years of independence, and a lot has changed since the fledgling nation began defending itself. In the 1700s, aviation was but a dream by a few imaginative soon-to-be American patriots. Indeed, parts of America’s Declaration of Independence focused on the most important transportation mode of the time… the world’s seas and their ability to support trade. Among the objections the Colonists had over the King of Great Britain were that he had “…plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” Additionally, he was “…cutting off our trade with all parts of the world.” Thus, our founding fathers concluded that “… as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do”. America declared that she had the right to defend herself and her important trade opportunities.

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In 1775, a Navy was formed and a dozen or so relatively small ships were ordered. These would be built to counter the Royal Navy, which acted in the name of the King. What began as a group of privateers aboard a handful of locally built (and otherwise captured) vessels ultimately coalesced and fought for independence from 1775 through 1783, scoring many victories.

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Outnumbered, privateers still prevailed over British merchantmen in European and North American waters, and took the battle to far away seas, disrupting British trade and the supplying of her troops in America. Control of the sea was critical, and when the French (including its’ Navy) sided with the Americans, the turn of events helped America to end the war in 1783. Later, during the War of 1812, American naval activity again lent a hand in an eventual victory. Sea control proved the adage that the best defense is a good offense, and guarding America’s shores and trade interests (as noted in the Declaration of Independence) were top priorities.

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American military aviation, in the form of observation balloons, was first used during the Civil War during the 1850s. Powered flight became reality half a century later, and just over the horizon, World War I would prove that aircraft were needed for observation and defense of her ground armies. As aviation “took off”, another frontier was identified that needed to be guarded – the air. In 1922, defense of the two modes of transportation – sea and air – were effectively combined when the USS Langley, the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, was launched. Through the Second World War and beyond, the ability of protecting American shores and interests worldwide would rest partly upon the shoulders of a number of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and airplanes.

Today’s modern aircraft carriers continue to keep foreign trade routes open and allow sea commerce to carry on in faraway places, such as the Straits of Hormuz and in West African waters. Open trade routes was the goal of the new American Navy in 1775, and is still a goal today. However, power projection of America’s resolve is shown by both aircraft and naval vessels today, whereas in the 1700s and 1800s, a fleet of men-o-war accomplished it.

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A good comparison between technological advances made in two and a half centuries occurred in Boston Massachusetts during June, when Sail Boston 2017, a gathering of tall ships, arrived in the city for a long weekend. Leading the way into Boston Harbor was the U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle, the Coast Guard’s sail-powered training ship. The U.S.S. Whidbey Island, a Navy Landing Ship Dock, served as the official reviewing platform for the parade of ships. On her stern sat a Sikorsky MH-53 helicopter; just another reminder that ship and aircraft capabilities are still bound together. Although clouds and fog held up the parade of ships for a while, as it began, a pair of Boeing F/A-18 Hornets made a flypast to mark the occasion. Sailing ships, supersonic jets and helicopters… what leaps in technology!

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Although Photorecon.net, Classicarbirds.net, and PHXSpotters.com are aviation-centric digital magazines, we salute our heritage with these photographs of technological progress both by air and sea. We thank all who’ve allowed the U.S. to enjoy 241 years of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, and we hope that we will, as it says in the Declaration of Independence, “conclude Peace” throughout the world in the near future.

We’d like to thank the U.S. Navy and Sail Boston 2017 personnel who assisted Philip Giordano, Maia Kennedy and Jim West during their coverage of the sailing parade.

Scott AFB: One Hundred Years in the Making

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The time period is June 1917, the location Belleville Illinois, located roughly 25 miles to the East of St. Louis Missouri. Construction begins on the then-known Scott Field, named after Corporal Frank Scott, the first enlisted person killed in an aviation related crash in 1911. The flying mission at Scott would begin a few months later with pilot and mechanic training on the Curtis JN-4D Jenny type aircraft. It would be these early days of flying and the hazardous nature of such that would give birth to a mission Scott still fulfills today, Aeromedical Evacuation. The mission at Scott would change in the 1920’s and 1930’s with the base being designated a “Lighter Than Air” Station with Balloons and Dirigibles assigned. In 1939 with the clouds of war looming, the mission reverted to a training role, this time it would be communications training which would last until 1957. The United States Air Force would become a service in 1947, Scott Field was renamed to Scott Air Force Base. The 1950s brought about many unit changes and re-designations with Aeromedical Evacuation becoming even more important than it already was.

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2017 Camarillo Air Show Preview

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Coming up in just over a month is the famed Wings over Camarillo Air Show in Camarillo, Ca. on August 19th and 20th. This year will prove to be yet again one of the “can’t miss” shows of the year!

The Grand Marshal this year will be one of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen. At 97 years young, Lt. Col. Robert (Bob) J. Friend is one of the first African American pilots to serve in the U.S. military and was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group, The Red Tails, which flew the P-51 Mustang during WWII.

For this year’s aerial entertainment, Vicky Benzing, John Collver, Judy Phelps, and Sammy Mason are on tap to provide the aerobatics.

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America’s First Defense Airport

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On Memorial Day Weekend 2017, Millville, NJ celebrated the 75th anniversary of Millville Army Airport- “America’s First Defense Airport”- by continuing a long tradition of hosting air shows. This year’s show welcomed back the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, who last appeared at Millville in 2007.

The story of Millville Army Air Field starts with the Millville Flying Club (chartered November 9, 1939) petitioning the city to build a local airport. The Flying Club’s dream came true on February 2, 1941 when, on a huge tract of wooded land, construction started under the National Defense Act of 1940 on an airfield (Moore’s Field) replete with asphalt runways. As construction neared completion, the mayor of Millville proclaimed August 2, 1941 “Millville Airport Day” by closing all businesses in the city, except drug stores and service stations. Ten thousand people attended the grand event dedicating the nation’s “First Defense Airport” that included the airfield’s first air show. Local flyers thrilled the crowd with snap rolls, inverted flying, stalls and loops, along with free airplane rides. The show concluded with a bomb-dropping contest and parachute jump.

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