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Flying with the GEICO Skytypers

Line Abreast

Since 2006, the GEICO Skytypers have been a crowd favorite performing at fifteen air show sites annually. The Long Island, NY based team has thrilled audiences with precise close-formation maneuvers in their six SNJ-2 WWII trainer aircraft as far west as Oshkosh, WI; with most shows taking place east of Chicago, north to Maine and south to Florida. At the recent New York air show where the Skytypers were performing; a young teenager commented to his friend, “These are a bunch of old guys flying really old airplanes.” Those within ear-shot offered no response, seemingly to agree with the youth’s assessment.

Following the Stewart AFB Newburg, NY air show, the GEICO Skytypers moved onto their next show site – NAS Oceana, VA – where four of us were offered a media-photo ride with the team.
On Oceana’s ramp, we gathered inside the GEICO air-conditioned travel trailer, which provided a welcome relief from the hot humidity. The trailer resembled a modern office with carpeting, recessed lighting, cabinets, countertops and a wood-paneled briefing room with a long boardroom table, leather desk chairs and modern electronic media devices. The outside rear of the trailer housed a full service, well stocked workbench and machine shop.

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RAAF Museum’s Newest Addition, A Spitfire MK VIII LF Replica


Last Friday, the 16th of September, I witnessed the unveiling of the RAAF Museum’s newest addition –  a Spitfire MK VIII LF replica, A58 –492.

Gifted by the Friends of the RAAF Museum, the Spitfire replica is on display outside the Museum to represent a Mk VIII Spitfire operated by Number 79 Squadron in the South West Pacific Area of Operations during World War II.

The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, thanked those who made the new display possible and said it was both a fitting tribute and an important addition representing an important era in military aviation.

“The display is the result of great support by the Friends of the RAAF Museum and corporate donors. It will take pride of place outside of the RAAF Museum where Air Force personal and visitors can acknowledge the achievements by 79 Squadron,” Air Marshal Davies said.

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Gate Guards Over Long Island


If you happen to be driving around Eastern Long Island and feel the urgent need to see an F-14A Tomcat, we have the place for you! Drive out on the Long Island Expressway (LIE or I-495) and exit at Route 25. Then back taxi west to the Grumman Memorial Park – about four miles to the west. There is a beautiful F-14A on a hard stand previously owned by the VF-101 “Grim Reapers”. If you drive further west for about a mile and turn south on to Burman Avenue, you will enter the old Grumman Plant and Airport where the final assembly and flight testing of the F-14 took place. On some maps it is called “Calverton Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Airport”. It is now open to the public. Drive in, look around! It is hard to believe that this is where all those wonderful F-14 Tomcats were built!!


But before you leave the Grumman Memorial Park, walk over to the beautifully restored A-6E Intruder strike bomber. It’s hard to believe that so many fantastic fighter planes were built and tested out here in Long Island; now there is no aircraft industry remaining at all!

LIAS, Revisited

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During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I was beginning to travel across North America in search of larger and more diverse air shows than those in my backyard of New England. This was the time before widespread use of the Internet and electronic media, and it involved searching in the land of land mail and magazines for any tidbit of information about an interesting theme or an exotic visitor from another shore. Plus, I had a network of friends who, via long distance telephone, would pass along news of interest to me, and I would return the favor when I could.

As I wasn’t connected with any friends or family who lived on military bases and would be able to bring me aboard to watch any Friday practice air shows and to photograph the arriving planes, I usually went in with the public on Saturday and Sunday and took my (film) pictures with everyone else. This all changed one year, when my circle of friends expanded, and I learned about the “photo tour” at the London International Air Show (LIAS). As Jeff recounted the 1988 show, which featured thirty McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms assembled for the thirtieth year of the jet’s operation, I was hooked. Additionally, a special photo pass that allowed for access to the ramps on Friday, and early entry to the grounds on Saturday and Sunday, allowed for uncluttered photos and opportunities to meet up with other enthusiasts.

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