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F4U-4 Corsair “Korean War Hero”

At the Valiant Air Command’s TICO Airshow this spring a new Corsair debuted.  The F4U-4 N713JT Bureau No. 97143 is owned by Jim Tobul of South Carolina and has been in the family for about 30 years. This is an airframe that has a lot of interesting history behind it.  This airframe has been christened the “Korean War Hero” by the Tobul Family with good reason.  It was built in August 1945 and missed the end of WWII, but went on to serve in Korea.  This exact airframe was aboard the USS Boxer (CVN21) from June to October 1951 with VF884 on its second tour of duty.   It had previously served in Korea from December 1950 to May 1951 on the USS Valley Forge (CV45) with VF653 which was a Naval Reserve Squadron from Akron Ohio.  VF653 was commanded by Cook Cleland of Cleveland, Ohio. Cook Cleland was a Naval Aviator who flew in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of the Philippine Sea in WWII.   Although he was a dive bomber pilot he was credited with 5 kills and became an “Ace”.  After the war, he went into air racing and won the 1947 and 1949 Thompson Trophy Races with the F2G Corsair.   Cook Cleland actually flew this airplane in combat in the Korean War. The Corsair was acquired by Joe Tobul and his son Jim in 1981 and it underwent restoration in Pittsburgh.  That was a fitting place to restore the plane since it was flown by several pilots from Pittsburgh when it served with VF653.  The restoration took 10 years and it flew again in December 1991. Joe Tobul flew the Corsair in airshows across the United States for many years sharing his airplane with anyone who came to see it.  Disaster struck in Columbia, South Carolina in November 2002.  Joe decided to bring the airshow to the troops and flew in formation with other airplanes to do a flyby at local VA Medical Center.   The Corsair caught on fire and crashed in a wooded area.  Joe didn’t survive the crash. His son Jim restored the aircraft and its first public display was at TICO a show that Jim attended regularly in his AT-6.  It is a magnificent restoration and a beautiful airplane.  If you look closely at the names below the canopy, not only is Jim’s name there, but his father’s name is there too.  It’s a fitting memorial for his father. The “Korean War Hero” is scheduled to appear at quite a few airshows this season on the east coast.  You can find its schedule at By Mark Hrutkay You can reach the author at TNMark@Me.Com. Some cool links..

Valiant Air Command Airshow 2011

The Valiant Air Command hosts an annual airshow in Titusville Florida each spring.  In the past (20 years ago) it was one of the 3 or 4 top airshows in the country.   It’s still a great show and has a long standing name “TICO” and is a contraction of the name Titusville Cocca Airport Authority. It’s a warbird based show in support of the VAC’s Museum and fund raising efforts.  As in past years, the Museum actually pulls it’s collection out of the hangars and displays them outside for a few days giving you a different photo op. There were lots of stars in the show as always.  It’s about 5 hours of nonstop flying.  To me one of the best was “Scooter” Yoak.  He flew down on Friday morning from West Virginia in the family P-51 “QuickSilver”.  His father Bill built the airplane out of parts documented as coming from over 200 P-51s which flew in every theatre during WWII.  One skin had a bullet hole in it and they “covered” it with a NACA duct during restoration.  For the parts they couldn’t find, Bill made them.   Bill Yoak is the premier sheet metal man for the warbird industry and perfection is the name of the game.  If you see QuickSilver this season, take a careful look at it, that is what a P-51 is supposed to look like.  If you see a P-51 or most of the other fighters, you can be assured that there are parts on them that Bill made.  His work is legendary in the business.  Others may be the “restorers” of an airplane, but if you knew where some of the major parts came from, well you’d find out they were made at a shop in West Virginia.  Scooter went on to fly three perfect low level acro routines for the show, nobody has flown like this since Bob Hoover was still flying.  Keep up the good work. Read more »

Cool Video displaying Slow Motion flying

A visit to Ramona Airport

While  Traveling to San Diego ,CA  in Aug 2010  for our monumental trip to flyout and trap aboard the USS Carl Vinson CVN70 We decided to make some calls to see if we could visit any local warbirds and meet some legends of aviation.  One owner and pilot that I have photographed over the years, Chuck Hall and his famous P-51 Six Shooter,was high on the list.,Mr Hall was happy to let us come out to Ramona Airport and have a private shoot with six Shooter. We drove the short distance from San Diego to Ramona and met with Mr. Paul De Jarnett the crew chief for sixshooter, Paul did a great job of hosting us and moving the aircraft around for our shots. One thing to note ,a visit to Chuck Hall aviation is like visiting a small FBO of yesteryear, with a museum like lobby showcasing the many aviation accomplishments of Mr. Hall.  The entire Ramona airport has so many unique aircraft tucked away,our 1 hour photo shoot ended up becoming an 8hr Day. One of the many people we met and would like to thank is Mr. Tony Wiser the owner if Victory Aircraft Service.  Tony is also the  the mechanic for Six shooter  Tony also maintains several other warbirds based at Ramona. Tony took us around and introduced us to several owners, we had a blast to say the least.   More to come about the Ramona Visit in future posts. We would like to thank Chuck Hall, Paul De Jarnett and all the wonderful owners and pilots that welcomed us ,we look forward to visiting again soon.