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Planes Of Fame Air Show – May 4-5



Brought to you by Planes of Fame/County of San Bernardino

This year’s airshow will feature nearly 40 historic aircraft performing for your enjoyment as well as a salute to the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Planes of Fame Air Museum is proud to present Air Show 2013: “Lightning Strikes Chino”. We invite you to Airshow 2013 to celebrate the history and contributions of this great aircraft. In addition to many other fantastic airplanes performing, there will be panel discussions with our honored veterans. Check back often for updates on the veterans who will participate. Also, be sure to catch the Airshow Preview Event and check out the Air Show 2013 Promotional Video!

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An Unconventionally Classic Warbird

So just what is a classic warbird?  Is it defined by a certain amount of longevity – say 50 years ?  How many follow-on versions does an airframe need to prove its adaptability and durability – about three dozen?  What about its importance in shaping a nation’s combat doctrine and foreign policies by allowing worldwide power projection?  I’m not sure that there’s any one set of definitive rules which constitute a classic warbird, but I’m prepared to offer some answers for these and other questions to support my assertion that Boeing’s EC/RC/VC/NC/JKC/NKC/C/WC/OC/TC/KC-135 Stratotanker indeed is a classic warbird.

Boeing’s original Stratotanker design came from the Model 367-80 (otherwise known as the “Dash 80″), which first flew in 1954.  From this aircraft’s concept, separate paths emerged… the Boeing 707 (civil) and 717 (military).  That same year,  the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) announced a competition for an aerial tanker companion for its new B-52 Stratofortress bomber.  Since Boeing projected that it could quickly field much needed tankers well ahead of any of its competitors (it already had a flyable prototype in the Dash 80), an interim contract of 117 newly-designated KC-135A Stratotankers was signed before the competition ended.  The first flight of the KC-135A occurred in August of 1956, and SAC received their first KC-135A nine months later.  Although this seems like a fast turnaround time, one cannot forget that much research and development had already been accomplished by the parallel 707 program.  Boeing actually lost the competition, but because the KC-135 had already begun operations, standardization won out and it ultimately garnered all the tanker orders, replacing the piston-engine KC-97s in service.

Eventually, 732 KC-135A tankers were delivered, plus 88 other C-135 airframes that were similar to the tanker, but with alternate equipment replacing the air refueling apparatus.  The last C-135 was delivered in 1965.  Close to three dozen variations on the theme of the original KC-135A have been produced, and this short look at many of them will be grouped into five categories: Tankers, Transports, Reconnaissance, Test and Evaluation, and Command and Control.

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Hawaii’s Military Aviation Heritage on Display

The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is located aboard Ford Island, at Pearl Harbor.  Within its’ pair of hangars and ramp area, a wide-ranging collection of aircraft and artifacts presents aviation heritage with a mainly military, decidedly Hawaiian flavor stretching from the beginning of  World War II through to today.  The Museum is set inside two historic Navy buildings, known as Hangar 37 and Hangar 79.  They sit alongside the abandoned runway that was once called the Army’s Luke Field, and later became a Naval Air Station when the Army moved to Hickam Field.  Ford Island Naval Air Station was one of the major bases which were attacked on December 7, 1941.  Hangar 37 was home to Navy Utility Squadron 1 (VJ-1), whose PBY amphibians were destroyed in the attack.  Hangar 79 still bears the scars of World War II; windows with bullet holes from the attack, never repaired, are visible as you walk into the hangar.

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Looking Back at Some Air Tattoos – Part Two

The Air Tattoos on either side of the Millenium were attended by countries with very interesting aircraft.  The Soviet Union had dissolved, and many Warsaw Pact air forces were replacing their old designs with newer Western and Russian jets.  Most SU-22 and MiG-21, -23 and -29 fighters were in their last years of service.  NATO forces that held onto older designs from the 1960s and 1970s were also shedding their less capable aircraft, like the French Navy’s F-8 Crusaders and Alize ASW/patrol turboprops.  The Royal Air Force’s long-serving Canberra twin jets, modified for the photo reconnaissance role, were retired too.  Many older aircraft with significant life still left in them were in the process of being modified and updated, such as the KC-135/RC-135 family.   The Tattoos offered a good opportunity for spectators to glimpse these types in the air for the last time.


The Air Tattoos usually had one or two special themes per edition.  One was the 80th anniversary of the Royal Air Force in 1998, another was the 50th anniversary of NATO in 1999.  Tiger Meets, where military units with “big cats” used in their squadron crests meet on an annual basis, supplied much color to many static parks during the years I attended too.   There were always a few bright and colorful aircraft amid a sea of dull camouflaged airframes each year.  Military forces were encouraged to bring specially decorated aircraft, and spectators were seldom disappointed with the results.

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