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!
On Friday, August 25th, the eye of Hurricane Harvey, a strong category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph, made landfall near Rockport, TX. Over the next week, the center of Harvey would sit and spin over Texas, dropping 40-50 inches of rain! This amount of rain resulted in catastrophic and life threatening flooding across southeast Texas, including the Beaumont, TX area.
Beaumont sits about 1 hour and 15 minutes to the east of the Houston Metro. When Harvey’s rains hit, the town’s 118,000+ people were devastated. While most of the national media’s attention was on the Houston Metro, other areas in Texas were also struggling.
The C-47 has a history of transporting important cargo. During World War II, the platform was used to carry jeeps, troops, or up to 6,000 pounds of other cargo. It was used by every branch of the US military and all of the major allied powers.
When Texas needed it, the C-47 stepped back into service – more than 70 years after the war that made the type famous. The cabin was loaded with diapers, food, and water before the aircraft launched on the hour and a half trip from Georgetown to Beaumont.
In a post on the Commemorative Air Force Facebook page, the CAF said, “When the Texas National Guard showed up with their Deuce and a half truck, we knew we had brought supplies to the right place. A troop of soldiers descended on the C-47 unloading box after box directly onto the military truck. This was only the first load of supplies and so long as there is a need the CAF is planning to help.”
Photos from David Oliver
The C-47 wasn’t the only aircraft that helped with Harvey relief. The B-25 Mitchell “Devil Dog”, also a CAF aircraft, transported supplies to impacted areas as well. These including, rather fittingly, 500 pounds of dog food for displaced pets.
Well done by these resilient old airframes and the volunteers that support, maintain, and fly them!
What’s better than a flyover from a B-29 Superfortress? The obvious answer is flyovers from TWO B-29 Superfortresses! AirVenture 2017 was an exciting week for many reasons, but this just may be the best reason of all. For the first time since 1960, there were two airworthy B-29 Superfortresses sharing the skies, and the AirshowStuff.com crew was there to capture this historic moment.
Although “Fifi” has ruled the airshow circuit as the only flyable B-29 for years, “Doc” became airworthy in 2016 and completed test flights in 2017. Attention immediately turned to the first time these aircraft would meet each other, and there was little doubt it’d be in Oshkosh. The two ultra-rare warbirds flew together several times during the week, ultimately flying in close formation together along with numerous other historical and modern bombers for an absolutely astonishing joint flyby!
There’s no end to the types of aircraft that you can see at AirVenture. If you look in any direction, you can see everything from homebuilts to the latest military hardware. This year, a unique duo took to the skies of Oshkosh during Sunday’s airshow for a display that’s both rare, and a treat to watch. Representing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a NASA T-38 Talon takes to the skies and shares the airspace with a National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics P-63 Kingcobra wearing special Test markings. Although the aircraft didn’t fly in close formation, their joint passes offered a special tribute to pioneers of science and technology both past and present. It’s a unique combination even for AirVenture!
2017 will forever be known as the “Year of the Bombers” at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh – and with good reason! With the memories of last week’s spectacle of aviation still fresh in our minds, the AirshowStuff.com crew is proud to present this video containing all of the major bombers that made an appearance at #OSH17. This video has something for every lover of the mud movers, from the only two flying B-29 Superfortresses “Fifi” and “Doc”, to the high-tech B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit. And let’s not forget the venerable workhorse of the bomber fleet, the B-52 Stratofortress.
Visitors were treated to multiple flybys, including a rare Bomber Triad flyover that included all three current USAF bombers in formation, plus static displays of the B-1B, the B-52, a re-enactment of the infamous Doolittle Raid including twelve B-25 Mitchell bombers, and both flyable B-29 Superfortresses on the ground and in the air. This video is sure to get your blood pumping and your adrenaline flowing. You’ll hear the scream of the eight Pratt and Whitney TF33 engines of the mighty B-52 as it roars overhead, and you’ll feel the rumble in your chest from the eight Wright Cyclone radial engines of both B-29s as they pass by. Check out the afterburner action of the B-1B as it rolls in at high speed with wings swept, heading straight for you! And who could forget the stealthy B-2 Spirit as it gracefully sweeps by, prominent bat-wing design on full display. This video has just about everything a bomber fan could love so sit down, strap in, and set your video player to 1080p so you can truly enjoy this awesome display of sheer firepower!
The newly restored B-29 Superfortress named “Doc” will be getting a permanent home soon. Doc’s Friends Inc., owner of the rare aircraft, announced plans to build a facility at the Dwight D. Eisenhower airport in Wichita, KS.
The 32,000 square foot facility will include a large hangar for storage and maintenance of the WWII bomber as well as space dedicated to an education center. Illustrations of the new building show large windows to view the aircraft along with a raised viewing balcony inside the hangar.
“We’ve said from the beginning that our vision was to build a permanent home for Doc in Wichita. Doc’s home will be a centerpiece to celebrate not only Wichita’s place in aviation history, but it will be a cornerstone to celebrate the men and women who built, maintained and served in the B-29 to protect our freedom. It will also be a unique place for future generations to connect with the majestic warbird through STEM education and perhaps they, too, will be inspired to a career in a STEM-related field,” says Jeff Turner, board chairman of Doc’s Friends Inc.
Over $4.5 million has been raised for the construction already, and further donations are being sought to reach the estimated $6.5 million final cost. Actual work on the site should begin in September and last for one year.
Here is the full statement from the WHF Facebook page:
All of us at the Warbird Heritage Foundation are deeply saddened at the death of our close friend and superb fellow pilot, Vlado Lenoch.
Vlado and a passenger passed away yesterday morning while flying in our P-51 Mustang, “Baby Duck”.
The Warbird Heritage Foundation will make no further comment regarding this tragic event until after the FAA, NTSB, and other relevant parties have completed their respective investigations.
Effective immediately, all WHF flight operations will be temporarily suspended until further notice. Also, the Warbird Heritage Foundation is cancelling the airshow appearances of all of our aircraft for the remainder of the 2017 airshow season.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Vlado’s family and friends and to the family and friends of the passenger aboard “Baby Duck”.
Nearly everyone in the airshow community lost a friend this weekend. Pilot Vlado Lenoch, along with passenger Bethany Root, was killed when the P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” crashed near Atchison, Kansas Sunday morning. Vlado had performed at the Amelia Earhart Festival the previous night in Atchison. Bethany was the manager of the airport there, and Vlado was no doubt taking her for a flight before heading home.
Vlado was an airshow and warbird icon, and one of the most prolific pilots here in the Midwest. He flew many types, but was most closely associated with P-51 Mustangs; especially “Moonbeam McSwine”, which he owned for many years. After selling Moonbeam he instead became synonymous with Baby Duck and frequently flew it all across the Midwest. He was also an Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (ACE) for other pilots and one of the few civilian pilots in the US Air Force Heritage Flight program.
Vlado Lenoch of Burr Ridge, Illinois is married with three children. His love of aviation began in 1970 when, at age 17, he learned to fly at Chicago’s Midway Airport. He earned an aeronautical engineering degree from Purdue and a Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following college, he was employed at the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company in Seattle as a 747 instructor. From that point, he was employed at two major airlines flying the Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-9 aircraft. Currently, he flies a corporate Citation jet for a private company in Illinois.
Lenoch is a licensed Airline Transport pilot with flight instructor ratings in single and multi-engine aircraft, instruments and gliders. He holds authorization for the B-727, Cessna 525, F-86, A-1, A-37, L-39, T-33, P-40, P-47, P-51, F6F, F4U and T-28 aircraft. Vlado has over 11,000 hours of flight time and has built his own aircraft, a Pitts S-1T biplane, which he competes in at the highest level.
A member since 1997, the year in which the Heritage Flight program was founded, Vlado is one of the most seasoned pilots. He has been a director in the FAST Fighter Formation program since 1990 and an ICAS and EAA Warbird Aerobatic Competency Evaluator since 1995. Vlado is a lifetime member in the Commemorative Air Force, Soaring Society of America and Experimental Aircraft Association. Vlado’s great uncle, Cvitan Galic (of Czech ancestry), was a 39-victory Luftwaffe Fighter Ace in the Me-109 in World War II.
Vlado was also famous for his laid back and friendly attitude. Everyone was his friend, and he was always willing to help us pesky photographers out. We worked with him on many occasions through the years, setting up on board cameras and taking photos of the cockpit. Two of us were standing on Baby Duck’s wing doing just that only two weeks ago – we took a smiling selfie that is almost haunting now. We were starting to look at that footage today, before the news broke. All of us here at AirshowStuff, and so many more like us, will miss Vlado terribly. Our condolences further go out to his family as well as the family of his passenger.
Volumes could be written about Vlado’s kind heart and piloting skill, but we think the best tribute is to simply watch the master pilot work at what he loved. Enjoy the video below, remember the smiles he brought to everyone’s face, and keep ’em flying. Please share your own photos, videos, and memories of Vlado in our forums – we want to see them all as we attempt to process this tremendous loss.
Exciting news for airshow fans in Europe! The beautifully restored P-51B Mustang “Berlin Express” will be flown across the Atlantic this summer in order to perform at the 2017 Flying Legends airshow in Duxford on July 8th and 9th. “Berlin Express” was restored by the staff at Pacific Fighters in Idaho Falls, ID and returned to flight in November of 2014. She is based on the skeleton of P-51B 43-24837, which flew from the UK during the war. We caught her at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh in 2015, where she was a notable guest of the event.
From the Flying Legends performer page: The restored fighter is based around the remains of P-51B 43-24837. This Mustang flew with the 9th Air Force’s 363rd Fighter Group out of RAF Staplehurst in Kent, England. It crashed in Beckley after the pilot was forced to bail out during a training exercise on June 10th, 1944. Sporting a “Malcolm Hood” canopy and wearing the markings for “Berlin Express”, Comanche Fighters newest Mustang is dressed exactly like the 357th Fighter Group Mustang which the legendary American ace Bill Overstreet flew under the Eiffel tower while successfully shooting down a Messerschmitt Me-109 in 1944.
We here at AirshowStuff.com think you’ll agree that few things sound better than the radial engine of a classic warbird. Unless, of course, it’s SIX radial engines! In 2016, the Illinois Regional Valley airport in Peru, IL hosted their first TBM Avenger Gathering where ten TBM Avengers (along with many other classic warbirds) met for an unforgettable weekend showcasing this legend of World War II. Affectionately nicknamed “The Turkey” for its large size, the Avenger was designed as a torpedo bomber and saw action in the Pacific theater. Avengers were even piloted by such famous people as former President George H. W. Bush and movie star Paul Newman!
From taxi to landing, you get a cockpit view from one of the immaculately-restored Avengers taking part in a formation flight at dusk. The golden glow of the sunset, along with the six other Avengers, makes for some spectacular scenery. You’ll see various formations being flown, and even get a glimpse of a T-6 Texan photo ship capturing the action as well. The sound of the radial engine’s throaty roar takes you back to when these large aircraft patrolled the skies, looking for Japanese ships. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this thrilling video and all it has to offer, you won’t be disappointed!