Douglas C-47 “Bluebonnet Belle” Crashes On Takeoff

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Douglas C-47 Skytrain "Bluebonnet Belle"

Shortly after 9:00 A.M. on Saturday July 21, the Commemorative Air Force’s Douglas C-47 Skytrain “Bluebonnet Belle” reportedly crashed during a takeoff at Burnet Municipal Airport in Burnet, Texas.

Video of the accident shows that the aircraft began to yaw during the takeoff roll. Shortly after lifting off, the left wing dropped and struck the ground. The aircraft then came down and rolled across the grass where shortly before coming to a rest, the aircraft caught fire.

**WARNING: Video contains strong language**
Facebook Video of crash

Of the 13 people inside, all were reportedly able to evacuate the aircraft. Seven are reported with minor injuries with one passenger needing to be airlifted to a nearby hospital. Fire fighters were able to extinguish the fire. Much of the aircraft has been burned away.

“Bluebonnet Belle” was an active part of the Highland Lakes Squadron CAF museum. Named after the city of Burnet, the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas, its history started as part of the Allied Lend-Lease Program serving the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and was most recently involved with the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey last year.

Pilot Killed, Two Others Injured When Rare de Havilland Venom Crashes On Takeoff In Wisconsin

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Marty Tibbitts Killed In DH-112 Venom Crash - Sheboygan WI

Pilot Marty Tibbitts was killed on Friday when his de Havilland DH-112 Venom aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff. Marty was on a formation training flight when the accident occurred. The aircraft crashed into a barn near the airport, killing dozens of livestock and injuring two people on the ground.

The Venom, along with a de Havilland Vampire and rare Gloster Meteor, was to be a featured performer at EAA AirVenture 2018 in Oshkosh, WI. All three are owned by the World Heritage Air Museum, based out of Detroit, Michigan. The formation training flight was in preparation for the show.

The Venom is a Cold War-era British jet which served with the Royal Air Force as a single-seat bomber and a two-seat night fighter. According to the World Heritage Air Museum, there are only 4-6 flying Venoms in the world, including the one they had. The aircraft was the only one of its type flying in the US.

Sadly, we filmed Marty flying the Venom just one week before the crash. We present this video in his memory. May he rest in peace.

New Photo Album – TBM Avenger Gathering 2018

TBM Avenger Gathering 2018 Photo Album

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! This album from the 2018 TBM Avenger Gathering in Peru, IL contains warbird action on the ground, in the air, and on a special air to air photo flight. Check it out here: TBM Avenger Gathering 2018 – Ryan Sundheimer

Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!

Warbird Heritage Foundation Acquires P-51 Mustang “Moonbeam McSwine” To Honor Vlado Lenoch

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Vlado Lenoch and Moonbeam McSwine

Moonbeam McSwine is coming home!

The Warbird Heritage Foundation announced Wednesday that they’ve purchased the P-51 Mustang named “Moonbeam McSwine” from its most recent owner, Mr. Frederic Akary of France. The aircraft will reside under a new FAA registration number, N51VL, in honor of Vlado Lenoch.

Vlado and Moonbeam were synonymous; he flew the aircraft for over 20 years before he sold it to Akary in 2012 and began flying WHF’s P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” at airshows instead. Vlado and passenger Bethany Root were flying in Baby Duck when they were killed in a crash last July. The aircraft was completely destroyed in the incident.

Moonbeam McSwine ReassemblyMoonbeam McSwine Reassembly

Rumors have been swirling for weeks now that Moonbeam was being brought home to the US to be flown as a tribute to Vlado, but until today nothing was confirmed publicly. The aircraft has arrived from overseas and is scheduled to be re-assembled at Tab-Air in East Troy, WI before joining the WHF fleet in Waukegan, IL. If all goes well, the aircraft should be up and flying in time for this summer’s airshow season!

Moonbeam McSwine Reassembly

Moonbeam’s history dates back to October of 1944, when it was manufactured in Inglewood, CA. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, Moonbeam raced in the Reno Air Races. Vlado flew it regularly in the United States Air Force Heritage Flight program (see the video below) before he sold it to Frederic Akary in 2012. Since then, it has been seen regularly at airshows across Europe.

We were fortunate to work with Vlado for many years, and continue to mourn his loss. This tribute is well deserved, and Moonbeam will certainly see many emotional reunions with Vlado’s friends as it returns to the airshow circuit. We look forward to bringing you plenty of photos and videos of this piece of history!

Historic “Memphis Belle” B-17 Moved Into US Air Force Museum Hangar

posted in: Museums, Warbirds | 0

B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" and "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" - National Museum of the United States Air Force

On March 14th, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force marked completion of the B-17F “Memphis Belle” restoration project. In view of invited media and 300 Air Force Museum Foundation members, the “Memphis Belle” was towed from the Museum’s restoration hangar to the WWII Gallery where it replaced “Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby”, a B-17G which had been on display there since 1988. The B-17G was removed from the hangar and placed into storage, where it awaits transfer to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at a later date.

B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" - National Museum of the United States Air Force

The “Memphis Belle” bears a paint scheme representative of the aircraft’s appearance on May 17, 1943, when the aircraft’s crew completed their 25th combat mission, thereby completing their tours of duty. They became the first Air Force bomber crew from Europe to return to the United States after reaching that milestone. This achievement earned the aircraft and crew national recognition, a war bond tour, and enduring historical significance.

B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" - National Museum of the United States Air ForceB-17 Flying Fortress "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" - National Museum of the United States Air Force

The Museum’s “Memphis Belle” exhibit officially opens on May 17th, the 75th anniversary of the aircraft’s historic combat mission. Until then, the aircraft remains obscured from view by a large partition. Plans for the exhibit debut include a static display of B-17 bombers, a gathering of WWII reenactors, and a big band concert, among other events.

– Article and photos by Ryan Grantonic

B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" - National Museum of the United States Air ForceB-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle" - National Museum of the United States Air Force

Rare British Jet Warbirds Expected At EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018

posted in: Airshows, Warbirds | 0

de Havilland Vampire

Some rare British jet aircraft will be on the flightline in Oshkosh this July! EAA recently announced that the World Heritage Air Museum in Detroit, MI is planning to bring both a de Havilland Venom and Vampire, as well as a Gloster Meteor that is currently the oldest flying jet in the world. The aircraft mark just part of the growing collection at WHAM, which has displayed other aircraft at EAA AirVenture in the past.

These new attendees will join other vintage jets like the L-39 Albatros, T-33 Shooting Star, F-86 Sabre, and MiG-17 Fresco. The jet warbirds are typically featured during “Jet Day”, but often fly other days of the week too. Organizers are encouraging other jet owners to come to the attend in the hopes of sparking a larger gathering. Even as it stands, AirVenture 2018 will surely be a rare treat for jet lovers!

Trojan Horsemen Formation Team Announces Retirement

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Trojan Horsemen T-28 Formation Team

The Trojan Horsemen formation team has announced their retirement from airshows. In a post to the team’s Facebook page, they explained that the challenges had simply become too much to continue.

The team performed at airshows and other events with up to six North American T-28 Trojans in formation. Although the team will be missed, it seems likely that most team members will continue performing in some capacity.

Read the full statement posted by the team below:

After 14 years of traveling the country and Performing for millions of Aviation fans we sadly announce our retirement.

The mounting challenges of reliably fielding a six-ship Team of T-28’s in a professional manner while maintaining proficiency, safety and our brand , have forced the premature retirement of the team.

We would like to thank all the airshow producers who honored us by allowing us to perform at your show, as well as our fans and friends in the air show community.

We sincerely hope that our patriotic message successfully touched your lives and made a positive difference. We have enjoyed every minute of sharing our historic aircraft with you.

New Photo Album – T-34 Mentor Pre-Oshkosh Gathering 2017

posted in: AirshowStuff, Event Recap, Warbirds | 0

T-34 Mentors Air to Air Over Lake Michigan

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here:
T-34 Mentor Pre-Oshkosh Gathering 2017 (Manitowoc, WI) – Ryan Sundheimer

Also be sure to check out our video of our flights with the T-34s:

C-97 Stratofreighter “Angel Of Deliverance” Returns To Flight – Watch The Amazing Takeoff!

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C-97 Stratofreighter "Angel of Deliverance" First Flight

The “Angel of Deliverance”, a Boeing C-97G Stratofreighter, returned to flight this week after 15 years of restoration in New York. The aircraft is operated by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation, which also owns and flies the C-54 “Spirit of Freedom”.

C-97 Stratofreighter "Angel of Deliverance" First FlightC-97 Stratofreighter "Angel of Deliverance" First Flight

The C-97 is a large piston-powered cargo aircraft based on the B-29 Superfortress bomber. It first flew in 1944, and was retired from US service in 1978. Some of the airframes, including this one, were used as aerial refueling tankers. “Angel” is now the only flying C-97 anywhere in the world, though one of the related Super Guppy cargo transports also remains in active service with NASA.

She roared off of Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on Tuesday, stopped in New Jersey for fuel, and continued to her new temporary home in Reading, PA. Jacob Gentile caught up with the aircraft during the fuel stop, and sent us this incredible video of the takeoff as well as some photos on the ground. The aircraft will stay in Reading through next spring, but the BAHF is actively seeking sufficient hangar space for both of their airlifters. Please consider supporting their cause as they keep these pieces of history active and flying!

Thank you to Jacob Gentile for providing the video and photos!

C-97 Stratofreighter "Angel of Deliverance" First Flight

WATCH: This Rare Super Hornet/Corsair Formation Showcases Decades Of Naval Aviation History

Visitors to the Cleveland National Airshow this past Labor Day weekend were treated to a special sight – a US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet and World War II-era F4U Corsair flying together! The pair performed several formation flybys before landing, then taxied together at show center and folded their wings to show their common bond as carrier-based fighters. Check out the entire performance in our video above!

This sort of sight used to be fairly commonplace through the US Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight program, which is similar to the US Air Force’s Heritage Flight program. Unfortunately the budget cuts of recent years stopped not only the Legacy Flights, but also the Hornet demonstrations themselves. As the TACDEMO teams return to full prominence on the airshow circuit, there is hope that these formations can again be flown regularly.

Don’t forget to also watch our video of the full Super Hornet aerobatic demonstration from Cleveland!

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