Latest Articles Appearing On Classic Warbirds..

The Nose Artist

By  Mark Hrutkay I was at the recent Mid-Atlantic Air Museum airshow in Reading, Pa and ran into Gary Velasco.  For those who don’t know him, Gary is probably the foremost nose art painter in the country.  He paints art on a lot of warbirds and there is a really simple to understand reason why…  Gary is darn good at it. Gary was working, selling the art he paints.  He paints on metal that simulates the panels of WWII fighter aircraft.  His work is pretty darn spectacular and is something that is very different than simple framed pictures. Mostly Gary and I got into a discussion of why the nose art that you see on current military aircraft is not up to the standards of WWII.  Gary went on to explain that back in WWII there weren’t any “graphic artists” like today.  They had “sign painters,” every base had guys that were painters and artists in their pre enlistment days that could paint.  They painted everything from signs that said to “Latrine” to the Colonel’s name on his door.   They could actually paint and in their spare time, they found themselves putting some art on the airplanes.  Those skills are rare today.   As usual, Gary was right. Then I had to ask Gary about what was behind him.  I thought it was a B-24 that was being restored and it wasn’t.   Gary simply went out and invented 1:1 full scale nose art.  He measured a B-24J and built a perfect replica side panel, complete with rivets, window holes, etc.  Then he painted some amazing nose art on it.  The panel is big too, say about 7’ high and 14’ long and it is awesome.  Awesome is a word that is overused in the English language, however, this definitely inspires a feeling of awe and wonder.  I know what I’m asking Santa for this year.  If you see Gary, you need to look at the B-24J, it is truly awesome.   Gary can be found at www.FightingColors.Com.

God Bless America on the 4th and always.

B-36 Ride to Hell !!!!!!!!!!!

When men were men---but, of course, they smoked and drank heavily back then. Talk about having a bad day.... B-36 Ride to Hell.... Ah back when engines were really engines.... Aircraft Commander 1st Lt. Oliver Hildebrandt, Pilot 1st Lt. Walter Ross, and Co-pilot Captain Wilbur Evans, and a crew of thirteen took off from Carswell AFB in B-36B, 44-92035 of the 26th Bomb Squadron of the 7th Bomb Wing at 5:05 A.M. on November 22,1950. The planned 30-hour training mission consisted of air-to-air gunnery, bombing, simulated radar bombing, and navigational training. Immediately after take-off, the #4 alternator would not stay in parallel with the other three alternators, so it was taken off-line and de-excited three minutes into the flight. About one minute after the #4 alternator was shut down, flames 8 to 12 feet long erupted from around the air plug of the number-one engine. Read more »

F-86 Sabre

Last Saturday (June 5th), The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA held its monthly “Living History Flying Day.”   This month’s topic was the F-86 Sabre. From 10am until noon, veteran F-86 pilots Vernon Hodges, Casey Finnegan, and others spoke to a crowd of 150.  These pilots shared their experiences and great memories of the legendary Sabre Jet. After the speaking portion of the program, the crowd was treated to a flying demonstration of the museums own F-86.  The F-86 was flown by the museum’s Chief Pilot, Kevin Eldridge. These “Living History Flying Days” are just one aspect of the museums commitment to educating the public on military aviation history.  Think about it, other than television programs like the History or Military Channel, where can you go to personally hear a veteran fighter pilot talk about their military flying experiences, walk around and touch their actual aircraft type, and then see it FLY! Additional information on the “Living History Flying Days” or general information on the museum can be found at their website: www.planesoffame.org.