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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh’s Warbird News, Part 1

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Here’s a first look at some of the great aircraft and events that took place at the EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. This year, among the many aviation-related celebrations during the convention, the 50th year of the EAA's Convention in Oshkosh Wisconsin was feted.

These photos were taken during the early part of the aviation celebration, on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the week-long event. Weather was a major factor during the first part of the convention; heavy rains and thunderstorms led to the closing of campgrounds on the Sunday prior to the show’s start, and aircraft were turned away too as the field was closed to any arrival that hadn’t had prior approval for parking on a paved spot. The grass areas at Whitman Field was quite soggy in spots.

After much vacuuming and other manual labor, the grounds accepted motor homes late Sunday night, while aircraft were accepted slightly earlier during the afternoon. By Monday morning, the miles-long jam of campers had completely vanished, and air traffic demand for arrivals was heavy.

While some clouds and a spot rain shower occurred over the first few days, VFR conditions and relatively comfortable temperatures were the norm. Photorecon.net, ClassicWarbirds.net and CivilAviationWorld.com will all contain multiple in-depth articles in the coming weeks, telling stories about just a fraction of the vast amount of aviation – related experiences that occurred over a week of AirVenture Oshkosh. Be sure to tune in often as we update our stories weekly!

Kirtland Air Force Base Air & Space Fiesta 2019

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Kirtland Air Force Base is situated on the southeast side of Albuquerque New Mexico’s largest airport. The base sits across the runways from the civilian terminal and actually shares the same runways with the Albuquerque International Sunport (KABQ). This busy northern New Mexico airport handled some 5,467,693 passengers in 2018. As this airport is a joint civil-military aerodrome, it made for a most unique air show experience.

Official photo of Col. Roy C. Kirtland

The Albuquerque Army Air Base was established on April 1, 1941. In 1942 the base was named after an early Army aviator, Colonel Roy C. Kirtland. A United States Army soldier, officer and aviator, he served in the infantry and Signal Corps before being transferred to the Army Air Corps in 1911. While learning to fly (he was awarded pilot’s certificate number 46 from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale and the Expert Aviation License number 11 from the Aero Club of America. He recommended that a young Lieutenant, none other than Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, follow him through flight training. He headed the U.S. Aviation School in College Park Maryland before becoming the Commander of the First Aero Squadron in 1913. He finished his World War I service back in the infantry.After that war, he became a flight instructor, graduated from the U. S. Army War College, served on the postwar General Staff, and finally became the Commandant of the Langley Station and acting commander of the Air Corps Tactical School. He retired from military service in 1938, after forty years’ service.

He was reactivated for Army service in 1941 at the age of 65, to help train WWII pilots… becoming the third oldest military pilot in the Air Corps at that time. Shortly after his re-establishment, he died of a heart attack later that year. In early 1942, General “Hap” Arnold requested that the Albuquerque Army Air Base be renamed after Colonel Kirtland.

Kirtland AFB is the largest installation in the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, and sixth largest in the Air Force. The base occupies 51,558 acres and employs over 23,000 people, including more than 4,200 active duty and 1,000 Guard, plus 3,200 part-time Reserve personnel.

Kirtland AFB is the home of the Air Force Material Command's Nuclear Weapons Center (NWC) along with the 58th Special Operations Wing (58th SOW), the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and the 150th Special Operations Wing of the New Mexico Air National Guard.

This year's Air and Space Fiesta was held on May 18th 2019. The show featured a full line up of aviation and space related events. The layout of the runways and the excellent pre-planning by the amazing staff at Kirtland made for a photography-friendly environment. It was a very windy day on the east mesa of Albuquerque, but the show went on as planned.

A very unique aspect of the day was the coordination between the above mentioned Sunport International Airport and the air show operations staff. The day’s air show flying activities played like a well orchestrated concert of military and civilian performers taking the stage. Perfectly timed civilian commercial flights made their way in and out of the busy airspace in between show acts. This was highlighted by the Air Boss announcing the departing commercial aircraft and their final destination that day. This kept the crowd entertained, even as the air show performers awaited their time in “the box”. The ramp was full of amazing military aircraft, from the two F-35s from Luke AFB, to the mighty B-52. One unique crowd draw was the static display of the DC-10 Fire Bomber #910.

The morning events started with the Chili flight - a five ship formation of experimental aircraft fly-bys. The Air Force Academy's Wings of Blue did a mass aircraft exit and flag parachute jump as the National Anthem was performed. Greg Shelton then took to the sky in his PT-17 performing solo aerobatics. Next up was Bob Carlton's Vertigo Super Salto Jet powered sail plane, and he pushed the limits of a sail plane, often hitting the jet engine and performing fighter like climb rates in this iconic aircraft. Not to be outdone with jet noise and smoke, the Smoke and Thunder jet car then took to the tarmac…this performance is always a crowd pleaser.

The field once again became quiet and as the smoke cleared. This allowed a few commercial flights to arrive and depart the Sunport. This was quite entertaining, as it not often you see a few hands waving at the crowd from a passenger-laden commercial aircraft and a crowd returning those waves as the aircraft taxied past. Those passengers must have felt special seeing thousands of attendees waving at them, you think?

With the air space clear and the box locked once again, a deep rumble was heard to the east. Just then a C-17 literally jumped off the runway after a very short roll and climbed fighter-style to the heavens. This began the C-17 demo, a sight that never grows old. Seeing an almost 300,000 pound (EMPTY) cargo aircraft perform a fighter-like demo is awesome. The crew from Joint Base Charleston really tore up the pattern in an awesome display of the mighty C-17 Globmaster III.

The Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force then took to the air for a flying demonstration. Several banana passes by their B-17 Sentimental Journey and B-25 Made In The Shade were performed.

They were joined in the air by the A-26 Night Mission of the Fort Worth Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force; the A-26 then proceeded to perform a solo aerobatic display.

The action continued as Jacquie Warda wowed the crowd in her Extra 300 acrobatic aircraft. As she was exiting the air show box, the crowd was still looking skyward as the familiar landing lights of an inbound commercial flight was on final. Sorry, this was a straight in approach by a familiar purple Southwest Airlines B-737 type, so no aerobatics here! After several more arrivals and a few more departures, a unique sound grabbed the attention of the crowd again.

Several CV-22 Osprey (Ospreys?), along with UH-1N, HH-60G, HC-130J, MC-130J, MC-130H aircraft from the 58th SOW took to the sky in an awesome display of the combat and rescue capabilities of the dedicated men and women serving in the 58th SOW. The base’s ground and sky above was literally turned into a combat zone. Complete with enemy fire in the distance, fast roping rescue crews braved that fire to rescue a downed crew member.

This was the highlight of the show for many proud local attendees. But there was so much more action ahead. The afternoon consisted of more acrobatic displays, including Barry Hancock in his immaculate T-6 Texan and its unique radial engine sound fighting the winds above the base. Jerry Conley took to the air in his concourse level restored DH-112 Vampire Jet, perfuming one of the most graceful yet exhilarating acrobatic performances of the day. Jerry wowed them all with his VERY low level runway passes and crisp snap rolls.

Not to be out done by this unique jet, Bob Carlton (who performed his powered sailplane demo earlier in the day) returned in his Sub SONEX Micro jet. The crowd was in awe of this little jet’s performance. As Bob was concluding his demo, the jet car Smoke and Thunder pulled out on the runway for the air and land drag race. With a few loud pops and a lot of smoke, the race was on… the Sonex above the jet car. Both were lost in smoke, and the result of the drag race was never concluded. Besides, it most likely was too close to call.

The last civilian act of the show was a spectacular adrenaline-filled wing walking demo by Greg and Ashley Shelton. Once again the crown was locked on the plane as Ashley made her way up to many poses on the top of the aircraft as Greg pulled and dove the aircraft all over the sky.

Finally the big event of the day was upon us, as the USAF Thunderbirds performance began. This was a long time coming for Kirtland AFB. The Thunderbirds were expected to fly at the 2016 Kirtland open house, but the team was grounded one week before the open house, due to the crash of Thunderbird #6, Major Alex Turner, following a fly by at the Air Force Academy. Maj Turner ejected safely, but the team did not perform at the 2016 show at Kirtland. The people of Albuquerque were ready for the performance this year, and it showed by the record - breaking attendance. The Thunderbirds’ performance was spot-on as always, tight formation work and adrenaline-filled solo passes gave the crowd what they wanted.

We would like to express our thanks and sincere gratitude to the 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office, especially Debra Christman and Eva Blaylock. Your hospitality and assistance was beyond expectations.

We also would like to express a sincere thank you to all the service members at Kirtland Air Force Base. Thank you for your service.

Our Preview of Warbird Features at the 2019 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

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Less than a month to go until the EAA’s AirVenture 2019 gets under way. Press releases are hinting at a wonderful warbird gathering, many for specific anniversaries or events. Highlights include the proclamation that this year is “The Year of the Fighter”, and a large amount of warbird and active duty military fighters are expected in attendance. It is the 70th Anniversary of a pair of iconic piston-driven trainers too - the Beech T-34 and North American T-28.

(Please note that the information contained here is for planning purposes only. Changes will most likely occur due to aircraft and crew availability. The photos contained within this article are file photos from previous AirVentures). 

Here’s an early EAA press release:

March 28, 2019 - A roster of the most legendary American military aircraft in history, from iconic World War II airplanes to today’s most sophisticated flying machines, will be flying and on display this summer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. EAA’s activities are being planned in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, EAA Warbirds of America, and individual aircraft owners. The activities will take place throughout the week, with some special programs designated for particular days during AirVenture’s seven-day run.

Among the events involving past and present military aircraft are:

• Aircraft from the USAF Air Combat Command, including fighters such as the F-15, F-16, F-22, and F-35, as well as the A-10 attack aircraft; • The first Oshkosh appearance of the unique XP-82 Twin Mustang, which has been under restoration in Georgia;

• A salute to World War II ace Bud Anderson, with every flying P-51 in the U.S. invited to Oshkosh to participate; • A gathering of U.S. Navy fighter aircraft, including F4U Corsairs, the gullwing fighters that were a key asset in the Pacific Theater; • Observance of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, with aircraft that participated in the actual invasion on June 6, 1944, as well as C-47 airplanes that will have just returned from a historic anniversary flight to France; • U.S. Air Force Heritage Flights and U.S. Navy Legacy Flights involving historic and modern aircraft in formation, highlighting the legacy and evolution of military aircraft.

“Oshkosh is known for being a collection of aircraft and people that is unmatched anywhere in the world, and that will again be the case in 2019,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programs, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions. “We are grateful to the U.S. Air Force and the Air Combat Command for their assistance and to the EAA Warbirds of America to make possible these kinds of activities, for which AirVenture is known and eagerly anticipated each year.”

Also noted in various EAA press releases are these points of interest to the warbird community: The Collings Foundation’s F6F-3 Hellcat is expected to be on hand. “Doc” – the B-29 Superfortress will make an appearance too. Nicholas Coutches’s rare P-51H Mustang will be one of the Mustangs in attendance to honor World War II ace and test pilot Colonel Bud Anderson. The 75th Anniversary pf the D-Day invasion will be feted by multiple C-47s, some of which will be returning from Europe as part of the D-Day Squadron, which flew a massed parachute drop during the European anniversary commemorations earlier this year. The EAA's Eagle Hangar museum has a new exhibit which “salutes the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II” as well.

Apollo 11 Command Module pilot Michael Collins will be a speaker, some 50 years after his historic space flight. Besides his astronaut years, he is an Air Force Test Pilot School graduate and served as the director of the National Air and Space Museum and as an undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as in other government and private industry posts. His Theater in the Woods program is planned for the Friday evening of the week-long AirVenture.

The 2019 Warbirds in Review schedule has been revealed in this EAA press release:

May 30, 2019 - The Warbirds in Review schedule of events for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 is here, and as always it is full of fascinating warbirds accompanied by notable presenters. Running from Monday through Saturday during AirVenture, Warbirds in Review has daily sessions at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Warbird Alley. Hosted by the EAA Warbirds of America, these sessions delve into an aircraft’s restoration, operation, and other aspects of owning a valued piece of history, while also spotlighting veterans by sharing realistic stories about the experience of flying the aircraft in combat or supporting the operation as a ground crew member.

Monday

10 a.m. de Havilland Mosquito Rod Lewis and Steve Hinton 1 p.m. Fairey Firefly Eddie Kurdziel

Tuesday

10 a.m. T-28 and T-34 70th Anniversary Aircraft Owners 1 p.m. P-51 Mustang Old Crow C.E. "Bud" Anderson Jack Roush and Jim Hagedorn

Wednesday

10 a.m. Grumman F6F Hellcat and Grumman F8F Bearcat Rob Collings - Collings Foundation, Warren Piestch - Dakota Territory Air Museum 1 p.m. Douglas A-1H Skyraider Roger Youngblood - Cavanaugh Museum

Thursday

10 a.m. P-51 Mustang Lopes Hope 3rd Don Lopez Family, Smithsonian representatives Eric Trueblood & Warren Pietsch

Friday

10 a.m. XP-82 Twin Mustang Tom Reilly, Lt. Col. Ray Fowler 1:30 p.m. Aircraft TBD Dick Rutan

Saturday

10 a.m. Douglas C-47 Placid Lassie Normandy Anniversary trip participants

1 p.m. North American P-51C Mustang Red Tail Col. Charles McGee, Lt. Col. Harold Brown, Lt. Col. George Hardy, CAF Red Tail Squadron

There’ll be lots to see in the air too... as of Friday June 21st, here are just some of the featured warbird displays expected to be in the air during the daily air shows. Unscheduled flights for photography and practice - as well as for pleasure, are always happening around the air show hours too.

Monday: Warbirds of America arrival show, EAA’s P-64, Aeroshell Aerobatic Team (T-6 Texans).

Tuesday: Warbirds of America show (trainers), Trojan Thunder (T-28 Trojans), USAF Heritage Flight.

Wednesday: USAF Heritage Flight (2 different ones?), Warbirds of America show, U.S. Navy Legacy Flight,  Julie Clark (T-34 Mentor).

Wednesday evening show: USAF Heritage Flight, Class of ’45 with Jim Tobul and Scott Yoak (Corsair and Mustang), Randy Ball (MiG 17).

Thursday: U.S. Navy Legacy Flight, Warbirds of America show (including P-51s), Bud Anderson tribute, USAF Heritage Flight F-22/F-35/F-86/P-51.

Friday: USAF Heritage Flight, Aerobatic Team (T-6 Texans), Julie Clark (T-34 Mentor), Thom Richard (P-40 Warhawk), Warren Pietsch (F-8F Bearcat), Warbirds of America show (Navy focus), U.S. Navy Legacy Flight.

Saturday: U.S. Navy Legacy Flight, Stu Dawson (EAA's P-64), Class of '45 with Jim Tobul and Scott Yoak (Corsair and Mustang), Warbirds of America show (D-Day focus with C-47s), Warren Pietsch (P-51) and Bernie Vasquez (Spitfire), Ray Fowler (XP-82 Twin Mustang), USAF Heritage Flight with F-35 and A-10.

Saturday evening show: USAF Heritage Flight, Julie Clark (T-34 Mentor), Aeroshell Aerobatic Team (T-6 Texans), Randy Ball (MiG 17), Nate Hammond (de Havilland Chipmunk).

Sunday: USAF Heritage Flight (possibly 3 different ones?) U.S. Navy Legacy Flight, Scott Yoak (P-51 Mustang Quicksilver).

This article will be updated shortly before the AirVenture celebration, with further EAA-supplied information, so check back just before the event too.

The D-Day Squadron – Missions Accomplished, More to Follow

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Written By Mike Colaner, Photos by Robert Gerard and Mike Colaner

On June 6th, a group of aircraft collectively known as the D-Day Squadron will make history when they will mark the 75th Anniversary of ‘Operation Overlord’, the D-Day invasion of Europe. A group of volunteers will make a legendary journey across the Atlantic Ocean with an ad-hoc squadron made up of Douglas DC-3, C-41, C-47 and C-53 aircraft. Each of these vintage aircraft has been meticulously restored to flying condition and will join similar aircraft from Europe and Australia for the Daks Over Normandy event on June 6th. This flyover of more than 30 aircraft will drop 250 paratroopers over the shores of Normandy France. The event will honor the citizen soldiers of the war, whose bravery led the Allies to the liberation of France, and then to an end of the devastating war in Europe.

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