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Oshkosh 2015 Scrapbook, Volume One

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AirVenture 2015's warbird participation was extraordinary, as a number of commemorative events were celebrated.  This year marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam ground war. As always, the EAA Warbirds of America attracts all manners of warbird operators, whose aircraft run in size and speed from piston engine liaison and observation singles to multi-engine bombers and fighters, and jet trainers and fighters too.  There were military veterans in attendance whose lives were changed forever by aviation presence in conflicts from the 1940s up through today's wars in the Middle East. Here's volume one of two volumes showing the breadth of this year's show.  These photos are all taken by the author during the early part of the week-long celebration of flight.

The Greatest Show on Turf Through Frank Ertl’s Lens

Ike’s Commanders

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An interesting and unique warbird from the 1950s was in attendance at 2015's EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A close relative to history's smallest Air Force One, this Aero Commander VL-26B was part of an order of Air Force executive transports, and is now owned by Scott Main.  He and his wife put their aircraft on display, it being the only flying example of its type.  The aircraft is painted in its' original blue and white color scheme, the likes of which is still used today on the U.S.'s fleet of executive transports. The Air Force utilized 15 L-26 Twin Commanders (some sources state 16) that were purchased in 1955.  The premier executive transport of its day, the basic type was ordered when President Dwight Eisenhower was confined to his Gettysburg, Pennsylvania farm while recovering from a heart attack.  The Twin Commander was the only multi-engine transport capable of operating out of "Ike's" 2,200 foot grass runway.  When he went home to recuperate, key government officials shuttled to and from Washington DC (under 100 miles) to conduct the nation's business for a short term, using Twin Commanders. The Air Force originally ordered 13 VL-26B (later L-26B and then U-4A in 1962)  and two L-26C (later U-4B) aircraft in 1955.  The latter pair were to be for presidential and secret service use, and the rest for executive/staff transport.  As the pair of -Cs weren't immediately ready, one source cites that a demonstrator aircraft was initially used as an additional L-26. After recuperation, Ike and the First Lady often travelled to his farm aboard the L-26C.  The L-26Bs were in demand for trips from large bases to smaller field facilities, where the short field and unimproved runway capabilities of the Twin Commanders were useful. The designer of the Twin Commander was Ted Smith, whose dossier included major experience with both the Douglas A-20 Havoc and A-26 Invader World War II bombers. Work on the light twin began in the 1940s; the prototype's first flight occurred in 1948. He would later design the Ted Smith TS-600 Aerostar, among many civilian aircraft. The L-26B series was similar in design to the civil AC-560A transport, equipped with 280 horsepower Lycoming engines.  The more powerful L-26Cs were versions of the civil AC-680 with a pair of 340 horsepower engines.  In 1962, all remaining L-26s in service were re-designated as U-4s.  The type had a rather short service life, as helicopters gradually took over the role of short-range presidential and staff transport.

The Greatest Show on Turf – 2015

DSC_2213-L[1].jpg Article and Photographs by Bruce Vinal Ask me which airshow I will not miss and the answer is simple……. Geneseo. Is it because they have more warbirds than any other show in the country? Not typically. Is it because they have the rarest planes in the world? Sometimes, but not always. When I was a little kid, I’d ride my bike a few miles down the road to our local airport and watch the airplanes. No fences or gates, no TSA, no security saying “Hey kid what are you doing? You can’t be here!” Just a kid and his bike sitting in the grass at the end of the runway watching the miracle of flight. Every year, on the second weekend in July, as I drive down Big Tree Lane past Austin’s Farm I’m that kid again pedaling a little faster as the runway comes into view. It’s hard to convey the feel of Geneseo to someone who’s never been there, I guess because there’s no other place like it that I’ve found to compare it to. A laid back celebration of aviation with no gates and no fences. DSC_3838-L[1] Over the years I’ve made some very dear friends at Genny and keep in touch as best I can 'till July rolls around and we can all sit together in the grass watching the miracle of flight. On arrival day when I hear Charlie Lynch on final in the TBM I always make my way down the line to greet him as he, his wife Elisabeth, their three kids and two dogs pile out of the airplane. It always makes me smile, just another thing that makes Geneseo what it is. Or there’s Kent Pietsch endlessly circling the corn field looking for his missing aileron (Get a GPS tracker for that thing Kent!) This year my Son flew into the show and in the spirit of Geneseo gave someone their first airplane ride just because the expressed an interest.

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In addition to the regulars, like Mark Murphy, Rob Holland, Charlie Lynch and Skipper Hyle there were a few new aircraft on the field. Andrew McKenna brought his Mustang as did Scooter Yoak, Gregg Shelton’s Wildcat was a nice addition as was Art Nalls’ Sea Harrier. Yes some of the anticipated aircraft didn’t show but that’s to be expected with 70+ year old airplanes. I think a Sea Harrier landing on the grass took a little of the sting out of the no-shows. If you’ve never been to “The Greatest Show on Turf” I highly recommend you put it on your calendar for next year, drive or fly in even drag the camper out and stay right on the field. If you have a passion for aviation Geneseo is a show not to be missed. A big thank you to all the volunteers at The National Warplane Museum for their dedication to the airplanes, the show and for making us all feel at home see you next year!