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VINTAGE JETS: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE WARBIRD JETS PRESENT AT AIRVENTURE 2019

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Jet warbirds are gaining in popularity with growing numbers ending up in the hands of civilian owners. AirVenture always assembles a fine selection of vintage jets from all era’s, types, and country of manufacture. Jet warbirds have become popular enough that AirVenture designates a specific day every year to showcase them in the afternoon air show.

The most prolific type to be seen is the Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatross, the most widely produced jet trainer in the world. The L-39, first flew in 1968 and was introduced into service with the Czechoslovak Air Force in 1972. The Albatross was built as a replacement to the Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin as a principle training aircraft. The L-39 is powered by a single Ivchenko AI-25TL turbofan engine giving the aircraft a top speed of 470 miles per hour and a range of 650 miles. When production ended in 1996 some 2,900 L-39’s were built with many still operated by air forces around the world today. The L-39 has become very popular with civilian owners with close to 200 registered in the United States alone.

Another vintage jet that is very familiar with AirVenture attendees is Douglas A-4B Skyhawk, N49WH flown by Paul Wood of the Warbird Heritage Foundation, based at Waukegan Illinois. This A-4B was built in 1957 and carried United States Navy serial number 142112 and is powered by a single Curtis Wright J-65-W-16A turbojet engine giving the Skyhawk a top speed of 661 miles per hour. This particular A-4B served with a variety of United States Navy and United States Marine Corps squadrons before being retired in 1970. The Warbird Heritage Foundation acquired the aircraft in 2007.

Another very familiar aircraft is N1713P, a 1960 built Lim-5 by PZL Mielec of Poland. This license built Mig-17 is flown by Bill Culberson and IS painted to match Randy Ball’s Lim-5. The Lim-5 is powered by a single Lis-5 centrifugal-flow afterburning turbojet engine, giving the aircraft a top speed of 710 miles per hour and a range of 670 miles. The Lim-5 was first introduced into service back in 1956 with 477 produced by the time production ended in 1960.

Several other vintage jets were present, including several Canadair CT-133 Silver Stars, North American T-2C Buckeyes and the Siai Marchetti S-211.

Vintage jets always bring a different and exciting element to AirVenture, with this year being no different. Vintage jets will continue to share the skies with their prop powered brothers for years to come. Until next time, “Blue Skies to All!”.

Brantford Community Charity Airshow 2019

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A few seasons ago, I learned about the airshow in Brantford, Ontario from my Canadian Airshow friends but was never in the area during the August timeframe. The subject of those discussions always contained the Avro Lancaster Bomber. The Lancaster is the flagship of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum and is also the only flying model in North America. A National Treasure of Canada. With some exceptions, she seldom travels far from her home in Hamilton.

I have had opportunities in the past, but weather and the early days of my photography did not produce any keepers. As I researched the possibility of attending the show, something motivated me greatly. The opportunity to photograph a night run of the Lancaster. Weather would not be a factor and it did turn out to be a dreary, rainy day. Once I decided the $99 dinner was worth it, I bought a flight and rental car for a brief, 32 hour stay in Canada.

The Brantford Community Charity Airshow benefits two charities. The Rotary Club of Brantford and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. It is held on a Wednesday at no cost to attendees except for a $20 fee to park. The 2019 version occurred on August 28th. Brantford Municipal Airport has three runways in triangular arrangement but the longest and airshow runway is a 05/23 at 5,036 feet. The sun starts behind and to the right, moving left and frontal in the afternoon.

On the Tuesday, prior to the airshow, the dinner at the Canadian Heritage Warplane Museum and the Lancaster night run took place. After arriving in Buffalo, New York and driving to Hamilton, Ontario, I spent some time at the museum before dinner, which was in the hangar. One individual from the performers was seated at each table and the buffet dinner was spectacular. After some dining, music, speakers, ceremonies and a silent auction, it was time to go on the ramp for the night run of the Lancaster. For an enthusiast like me, it was worth the money for this opportunity. The run lasted 15 minutes, or so, going from idle to high power. The sounds, the feel and the blue-flamed exhaust were so gratifying.

The following day, the location shifts to Brantford Municipal Airport on a very nice, sunny day. This weather would bring the biggest crowd in the recent memory of the hosts. Most of the performers park in front of the crowd and included, the B-25 “Hot Gen”, a white PBY Canso (Catalina), the CF-18 Demo Team, two T-28 Trojans, the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds and the Lancaster.

Before the official start of the show, the Snowbirds were flying around in a light practice and the Lancaster was giving rides.

The performances got started with a Royal Canadian Air Force C-47 in nice markings from World War II. The Hamilton Sport Parachute Club was onboard and performed the opening ceremonies flag jump. The PBY Canso also launched and took turns flying in front of the crowd. The all white Canso had a surprising camouflage top on the wing.

That was followed by the Pitts Special II team in red paint performing formation aerobatics.

Two T-28 Trojans performed a formation routine with one in blue Navy colors and another in white Army colors. The B-25, “Hot Gen” performed an aggressive solo routine.

Visiting from their home base at Waterloo Airport, the Waterloo Warbirds provided a red and gray DeHavilland Vampire and a blue Lockheed T-33 first in formation and then in solo passes.

Next, the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team flew their formation routine and then it was time for the beloved star of the show, the Avro Lancaster. After a solo routine, the show finished up with the CF-18 Demonstration Team and the Snowbirds, although I left the grounds at 3pm to ensure a trouble free egress and a flight home out of Buffalo.

I certainly enjoyed this all-Canada show and the images I was able to take home. Leading up to the event, I had questions and I wish to thank Al Mickeloff of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum for his time and helpfulness.

This annual airshow benefits great causes bringing performers and the community together and I was happy to take part in it.

WARBIRDS: A Look at the Other Vintage Propeller Powered Warbirds of AirVenture 2019

 

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Warbirds and the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) have walked hand in hand since the early days, long before the name was changed to AirVenture. Warbirds play a vital role in the continued success of AirVenture and never fails to bring together an impressive batch of warbirds from all eras including World War II, Korea and Vietnam. This year AirVenture celebrated the 70th birthday of both the North American T-28 Trojan and the Beechcraft T-34 Mentor. The North American P-51 Mustang was also featured this year as reported on in a previous article.

AirVenture celebrated the 70th birthday of the single engine Beechcraft T-34 Mentor this year. The T-34 was designed as a primary military trainer aircraft and is derived from the civilian Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza. The T-34 first flew in 1948 and entered service in 1953 with the United States Air Force, and the United States Navy in 1955. The T-34 was originally powered by a single piston engine that being the A&B model, which was eventually succeeded by the turboprop powered C model or Turbo mentor. All branches of the United States military, including the United States Coast Guard, used the T-34 until it was replaced by the Raytheon T-6 Texan II. Today the T-34 is extremely popular with civilian owners and aerobatic performers alike such as Julie Clarke who just retired from the air show circuit this year.

Also celebrating a 70th birthday this year is the North American T-28 Trojan. The T-28 was designed and built as a piston engine primary trainer, that was also adapted to perform as a counter insurgency, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and FAC (Forward Air Controller) aircraft during the Vietnam War. The T-28 first flew in 1949 and was produced from 1950 until 1957 with approximately 2000 aircraft built. The T-28 was as used by the United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Army as well as several foreign countries well into the 1980’s. The T-28 is very popular with civilian warbird owners and aerobatic performers today due to its low operating costs and maneuverability.

Several other notable warbirds were on hand and included N30, a 1955 built Aero Commander UL-26B, serial number 554638. This aircraft has the distinction of being one of 6 originally and specially built to carry the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States and other government officers on short trips. This particular aircraft has the distinction of being the smallest aircraft to ever carry the Air Force One call sign when President Eisenhower used it to travel between Washington D.C. and his farm near Gettysburg PA. After being sold as surplus in 1960 the aircraft was relegated to flight training and freight hauling duties. The aircraft was bought by a private individual in 1997 and meticulously restored to its original condition. The Commemorative Air Force acquired it in 2019 and will display at airshows around the country for many years to come.

One cannot overlook one of the stars of AirVenture 2019 that being Tom Riley’s beautifully restored North American XP-82 twin Mustang. This extremely rare aircraft, with only 5 left in existence. This Twin Mustang with, serial number 4483887, and is the only one flyable left in the world. The XP-82 is powered by a pair of Packard built Rolls-Royce V-1650-23-25 counterrotating Merlin engines, which give the aircraft a top speed of 486 miles per hour and a range of 1,390 miles. Tom Riley started his restoration work in 2008 and after many years, the newly restored aircraft took flight on December 31st 2018, for the first time since December 14th 1949. This aircraft won the AirVenture post-World War II Warbirds Grand Champion Award for 2019 and 2 Golden Wrench Awards.

As usual several Douglas C-47’s descended upon AirVenture 2019 including the January 1944 built C-47, aircraft serial number 12253. This C-47 was built for the Royal Air Force and assigned Royal Air Force serial number F668 and assigned to 271 Squadron. On June 5th 1944, this C-47 would fly into the history books by participating in “Operation Overlord” better known as D-Day. This C-47 would go on to fly many missions through the end of World War II. Like many other surplus C-47’s after the war ,went into service as airliners converted to DC-3’s. This aircraft would fly for Trans Canada Airways from 1947 to 1957, after it was transferred to Canada’s Department of Transport where it adopted its current registration of C-FDTD. Fast forward to 2019 when Mikey McBryan, the General Manager, of Buffalo Airways based in Red Deer Alberta Canada found this historic aircraft for sale. With the backing of his father, “Buffalo” Joe McBryan, among others restored C-FDTD to flying status. On June 6th 2019 and after months of restoration C-FDTD made its first flight in 30 years and 75 years to the day the aircraft participated in the greatest invasion of all time. This historic C-47 now proudly wearing D-Day invasion Stripes and a Buffalo Airways colors rudder was on display at AirVenture all week.

Many other historic warbirds were also on display or flew through the week including, “Doc” one of only 2 flyable Boeing B-29 Superfortress’s left in the world. Numerous North American P-51 Mustangs, as well as many other trainers, fighters, and bombers were also present. AirVenture is and will continue to be a hotbed of activity for Warbird Enthusiasts each and every year. We will speed things back up in our next article highlighting the jet warbirds of AirVenture 2019, until next time “Blue Skies to All!”

Reno, 2019

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Once a year, Stead Airport erupts with the sound of the fastest motorsport on Earth.

The Reno Air Races are one of the most iconic aviation events of the year. After finally attending my first air races last year, I made my way back up to Reno again this past September for this spectacular event. While the Unlimiteds were the initial thing that got me interested in air racing as a kid, make no mistake, the sport has so much more to offer now. Rounding the 50 foot pylons along with the mighty Unlimiteds are the very competitive Sport, Biplane, Formula One, T-6, and Jet classes.

The Unlimited class is made up of mainly World War II era Warbirds, some of which have been highly modified. Along with the Jets and Sport Gold classes, the Unlimiteds run a 7.9107 mile course at speeds over 500mph.

The other classes race on smaller courses ranging from 3.1193 miles to 6.7757 miles. This past year introduced a new style of racing as well, the Short Take Off/Landing (STOL) drag races. The STOL races took place in front of the grandstands in the dirt median between the taxiway and runway. Two aircraft launch from a starting point, get airborne, but almost immediately must perform a short landing. Then they make a u-turn on the ground and launch in the opposite direction they came from. When they hit the finish line, they must land in the shortest distance possible. This was wild and highly entertaining, and the crowd ate it up!

In between over a dozen races each day, there were aerobatic routines, a demonstration by the Honda Jet, military flybys, and a performance by the USAF Thunderbirds Flight Demonstration Team.

However, the focus is definitely on the races throughout the week.

There's just something about watching and listening to aircraft screaming past you at over 450mph while only 50 feet off the ground that you can't get anywhere else. I travel to many shows throughout the air show season and am fortunate to experience a lot of unique things, but there's nothing quite like the Reno experience.