New Photo Album – Waukesha Gathering Of Warbirds 2016

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MiG-17 Fresco - Afterburner Takeoff

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Gathering of Warbirds 2016 – Waukesha, WI – Ryan Sundheimer

The 2016 Gathering of Warbirds in Waukesha, WI brought together many different warbirds for a public open house. The warbirds included a P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang, MiG-17 Fresco, T-37 Tweet, T-28 Trojan, De Havilland Chipmunk, T-34 Mentor, two F-86 Sabres, and more. A C-130 Hercules and King Air from the Royal Canadian Air Force were also on display.

Bavarian OV-10 Bronco Demo Team Looking Ahead To 2018 North American Airshow Tour

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OV-10 Bronco Deam Team
Photo source: Bronco Demo Team

The Bavarian OV-10 Bronco Demo Team, a well known performer on the European airshow circuit, is looking to arrange a North American airshow tour in 2018. The team is announcing the tour now as they work to book dates at the ICAS convention this week. They will need to book approximately 30 airshows in order to make the trip feasible. Another European performer, the Breitling Jet Team, recently wrapped up their North American tour after performing in the US and Canada over the last two years.

The Bronco Demo Team operates a pair of North American OV-10 Broncos, a twin-turboprop light attack and observation aircraft. The type served with the US Air Force, Navy, and Marines during the Vietnam War and was exported to other countries as well. The Marine Corps operated the Bronco until the 1990s, and deployed them during the Gulf War. Recently, several OV-10s were re-purposed and deployed the Middle East to support special operations forces in the fight against ISIS. The OV-10Bs operated by the team served as target tugs with the German military.

If the team’s efforts prove successful, we may see an influx of European performers in the coming years. Make sure you contact your local airshow organizer and request to see the Bronco Demo Team in 2018!

OV-10 Bronco Demo Team - North American Tour Info

CAF Announces New “Prowlers Of The Pacific” Airshow Act For 2017 Season

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Curtiss SB2C Helldiver - Prowlers of the Pacific
Photos courtesy of the Commemorative Air Force

The Commemorative Air Force announced a new airshow act today that will debut during the 2017 show season. The act is titled “Prowlers of the Pacific” and will feature an ensemble cast of CAF aircraft in a performance designed to tell the story of WWII in the Pacific theater. The featured aircraft are a Goodyear FG-1D (F4U) Corsair, a Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless, a replica Nakajima B5N “Kate”, and the world’s only flying Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. Pyrotechnic effects and other CAF aircraft can be added to the act for an even larger performance. Look for more on the act at the 2016 ICAS convention and at www.ProwlersOfThePacific.com!

FG-1D (F4U) CorsairB5N Kate Replica

Here is the synopsis of the act from the press release:

The massive roar of the radial engines, the smoke trailing from an aerial dog fight and rare warbirds fighting will re-create the scene over the waters of the Pacific!

The story of the Prowlers of the Pacific begins on that fateful day in December, 1941. The war in the Pacific doesn’t take place over land and airfields are rare. The war takes place over millions of miles of ocean and the aircraft carriers become the chess pieces each side maneuvers. Each carrier was equipped with fighters, bombers and torpedo planes to do battle and we put you at the head of the task force with the Prowlers of the Pacific!

Prowlers includes the only flying SB2C Curtiss Helldiver and rare SBD Dauntless dive-bomber, the famous gull-winged Corsair fighter and a Japanese Kate (replica) torpedo bomber that represent the best of the Pacific War. Additional fighters, bombers and pyro-technics are available on request. The Prowlers of the Pacific exhibits the aerial warfare witnessed at The Battle of the Coral Sea and The Battle of Midway, two events that changed the course of the war in the Pacific.

Mentors Over Manitowoc – Pre-Oshkosh Practice And Fun With The T-34 Association

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T-34 Mentor Air to Air - Manitowoc, WI

One of the most amazing sights and sounds of EAA AirVenture every year is the warbird segment of the airshow. On some days, over 100 airplanes fill the sky together in a tremendous display of historical air power. The majority of these aircraft are part of the mass formations that circle and cross overhead, providing a backdrop for the other aircraft below.

The formations are usually organized by aircraft type; the T-6 Texans, the T-28 Trojans, the T-34 Mentors, and the Red Stars formation of Yak-52s and CJ-6s (plus one misfit SF-260 that I have had the pleasure of riding in). These groups represent pilots from across the country who fly and train together throughout the year to put on shows like these. Each of the groups arranges a pre-AirVenture gathering at an airport near Oshkosh in the days leading up to the event as a chance to meet up and get some last minute practice flights in. This year, I had the privilege of joining the T-34 Mentor Association members in Manitowoc, WI for their annual pre-AirVenture meetup.

T-34 Mentor Air to Air - Manitowoc, WIT-34 Mentors - Manitowoc, WI

Manitowoc County Airport (KMTW) is east of Oshkosh, near the shore of Lake Michigan. It is an untowered field with good ramp space and most importantly, EAA Chapter 383. Members of the chapter play host during the gathering, and their hangar and office are the hang out spot for the pilots. This year at least 20 T-34s were in attendance, with two, three, and four-ship flights launching in several waves beginning Saturday morning.

I was invited to join one of these flights, a four-ship. We headed out over the lake to work through different formations and rejoins, while other groups did the same in different pre-determined areas. Everything was expertly organized and briefed by T-34 Association President Billy “Smitty” Smith. Flights like this are required for each pilot to earn and maintain their “FAST card”, a certification of their ability to fly formation. Without this, they are not allowed to fly formation in waivered airspace, such as during the AirVenture airshows.

T-34 Mentor Air to Air - Manitowoc, WIT-34 Mentor Air to Air - Manitowoc, WI

After several rounds of these smaller group flights, the group starts putting together the large mass formation. This usually begins to come together on Sunday afternoon, but unfortunately this year the weather was less than cooperative and it was delayed. I had to leave for Oshkosh without seeing the mass flight practice.

I’d see the group soon enough though, as they arrived during the airshow in typical dramatic fashion. If you’ve never witnessed it, it is quite shocking to see. All of the formation groups come in from different directions and at different altitudes, all pointed at show center. Last year they nailed the timing, resulting in a thrilling triple cross directly overhead. From the cross, each group begins a carefully calculated orbit to continue passing over and in front of the crowd while avoiding the dozens of other airplanes sharing the sky.

T-34 Mentors Air to Air - Manitowoc, WIT-34 Mentor Air to Air - Manitowoc, WI

The chaos is incredible to witness, and most on the ground have no idea of how much work, practice, and planning is behind the spectacle. Luckily, these pilots are willing to put in the hours necessary to give us all a safe and entertaining show!

Check out the rest of my photos in our photo gallery – T-34 Mentor Gathering 2016 – Manitowoc, WI

T-34 Mentors - Manitowoc, WIT-34 Mentors - Manitowoc, WI

Thank you to Billy Smith, Stephen Bohlig, Adam Silverstein, Malte Lorenz, Tim Kolp, the rest of the T-34 pilots, and EAA Chapter 383 for allowing me to join in the fun!

– Ryan Sundheimer

Martin Mars Stars In AirVenture Lineup, Recovers From Damage

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Martin Mars - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016

The famous Martin Mars water bomber was one of the main attractions at EAA AirVenture this year, but it did not survive the show unscathed. The aircraft, which performed in the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday airshows, suffered a bird strike to one of its four engines on Friday. In the ensuing landing on Lake Winnebago, it hit a rock that tore a basketball-sized hole in the flying boat’s hull. The damage forced the plane to miss its planned Saturday airshow appearance, but after extensive pumping and some repair work, it was able to fly home and did so on Tuesday, August 2nd.

Martin Mars - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016
Pumping underway to keep the Martin Mars afloat

The “Hawaii Mars II”, the aircraft showcased at AirVenture, is the lone flying example remaining of the type. Only seven aircraft were built in the 1930’s and 1940’s, with with most destroyed or scrapped long ago. She is owned by Coulson Flying Tankers in British Columbia, and has been used to fight wild fires in the region. A second intact Mars, named “Phillipine Mars”, is also owned by Coulson but does not currently fly. Phillipine Mars is painted in the colors she wore during her service in the US Navy as a long range patrol aircraft. There was previously a deal in place to send her to the National Museum of Naval Aviation, but it fell through and Coulson Flying Tankers is currently seeking a buyer for both aircraft as they are no longer being tasked with firefighting duties.

Martin Mars - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016Martin Mars - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016

You can check out the stunning performance of the Martin Mars during AirVenture in our video:

Pilot Killed In Crash At 2016 Cold Lake Airshow

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Pilot Bruce Evans
Photo via LinkedIn

Pilot Bruce “Frac” Evans was killed today when his T-28 Trojan crashed while he was performing at the Cold Lake Airshow in Alberta, Canada. The performance was a solo routine and no other performers or spectators were involved. According to the airshow’s website, Bruce was a Geologist and warbird enthusiast with an Airline Transport Pilot Licence, a T-28 Endorsement, and a low level aerobatic clearance to 250’. Throughout his career Bruce accumulated over 4,100 hours of flight time.

The crash happened around 2pm. Witnesses report that the T-28 was performing low level aerobatics when it impacted the ground while in a dive. The remainder of the show was canceled following the incident.

Our thoughts are with Bruce’s family and friends.

B-29 Superfortress “Doc” Has Successful First Flight!

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B-29 Superfortress "Doc" First Flight

After a couple decades of hard work, the world gained a second flying B-29 Superfortress this morning when “Doc” took to the skies at McConnell AFB in Kansas. The Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 “Fifi” was previously the only flying example of the type. The first flight event was live streamed online for those not in the gathered crowd, and a replay can be viewed below for those who missed it. Now “Doc” will continue with a program of managed flight testing to fully prove all of the aircraft’s systems. If the timing works out, it may even be able to make an appearance at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh!

You can learn more about the project and help with the continued efforts here.

First Flight Of B-29 Superfortress “Doc” Announced

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B-29 Superfortress "Doc" First Flight
Photo credit: Doc’s Friends

The eagerly anticipated first flight of the B-29 Superfortress “Doc” has been scheduled for Sunday, July 17th. The flight will mark a culmination of 16 years of restoration by volunteers in Wichita. The flight is expected to take place in the early morning, weather allowing, and viewing information will be announced for anyone in the area who wants to watch. The group leading the restoration recently obtained permission from the Department of Defense to use the military runway at McConnell AFB for the flight.

The planned timing does leave open the possibility for Doc to attend this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh show at the end of the month. Hours of flight testing will need to be completed first, though. The world’s only other flyable B-29, “Fifi”, is already confirmed for AirVenture.

Syracuse International Air Show Books Sea Harrier To Replace Blue Angels; Show Will Donate All Profits

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Art Nalls takes a bow in his Sea Harrier to cap off his performance at the 2015 Rockford AirFest.
Art Nalls takes a bow in his Sea Harrier to cap off his performance at the 2015 Rockford AirFest.

The Syracuse International Air Show, scheduled for this upcoming June 11-12 weekend, has secured the Nalls Aviation Sea Harrier as its headlining act. The show took quick action to book the “SHAR” after the US Navy Blue Angels canceled their performance in the wake of last week’s tragic crash of Marine Captain Jeff Kuss. Organizers decided to hold the show as a tribute to Capt. Kuss, and will donate all profits to his family. Art, like many on his team, is a former Marine and was happy to help. He will also donate a large portion of his appearance fee to the fallen angel’s family.

Many more airshows will be scrambling to find new headliners due to the unprecedented dual stand downs by the Blue Angels as well as the USAF Thunderbirds after their own crash last week. Generally a last minute cancellation is the worst thing that can happen to an airshow organization, so the shows will likely go on as scheduled. Performers like the Art Nalls and the Breitling Jet Team may get some extra calls for their services. It also remains to be seen whether the immense public spotlight that was put on airshows after the crashes will help or hurt attendance. Hopefully all of the upcoming airshows can weather the storm.

Enjoy this unique view that we were able to capture of Art Nalls’ performance at the 2014 Cleveland National Air Show:

Nearly Intact P-47 Thunderbolt Pulled From Hudson River After Fatal Crash

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P-47 Thunderbolt "Jacky's Revenge" Pulled From Hudson River
Source: New York Post

The P-47 Thunderbolt “Jacky’s Revenge” that crashed into the Hudson River near the George Washington bridge on Friday has been removed from the water by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Photos from the site show that the aircraft appears amazingly intact, which is surprising given the fatal nature of the crash. It appears pilot Bill Gordon did an excellent job of ditching it, but sadly something still went wrong and he did not survive. His body was recovered by divers several hours after the crash. The aircraft has been taken to a nearby heliport so that the NTSB can study it during their investigation. Nothing has been announced on what will happen to it after that is complete.

P-47 Thunderbolt "Jacky's Revenge" Pulled From Hudson River
Source: HeraldNet

The owner, the American Airpower Museum, has canceled its participation in the nearby Bethpage Airshow at Jones Beach State Park this weekend but said in a statement that the museum will remain open this Memorial Day weekend to ensure the mission of presenting history is continued. The airshow is also still being held, with a missing man formation flown in Bill’s honor.

Here is video of Jacky’s Revenge flying in happier times, at the Thunder Over Michigan airshow in 2014:

Please continue to keep Bill’s family and friends in your thoughts during this difficult time.

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