Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)
Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)

Historic Warbirds Return To Service, Transport Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Harvey

posted in: Popular Posts, Warbirds | 1

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.

In Georgetown, TX, located outside of Austin, citizens started gathering supplies. A call went out for general aviation aircraft and pilots in the area to help take supplies down to Beaumont. The Commemorative Air Forces’s Highland Lakes Squadron, with their Douglas C-47 “Bluebonnet Belle”, answered that call.

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!

B-25 Devil Dog Aids Harvey Relief

Martin Mars Stars In AirVenture Lineup, Recovers From Damage

posted in: Airshows, Warbirds | 2

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 Uninjured In “Tuskegee Airmen” P-51 Landing Incident In Texas

posted in: Warbirds | 0
P-51C Mustang "Tuskegee Airmen" Landing Incident
Photo source: NBC 5/DFW

The pilot of the Commemorative Air Force’s rare P-51C Mustang “Tuskegee Airmen” is uninjured after making an emergency belly landing at Dallas Executive Airport in Texas today. Unfortunately, the aircraft sustained significant damage in the incident, and a photo from the scene shows the propeller and spinner laying on the ground near the rest of the aircraft, completely detached. Although the incident is being described as an emergency landing, it is not clear at this point what sort of emergency led to the landing.

This particular aircraft has undergone extensive restoration in the past, first after its donation to the CAF and again after a crash that killed pilot Don Hinz in 2004. The second restoration was completed in 2009. The aircraft had since become a regular sight on the airshow circuit, performing aerobatics and sitting on display next to a traveling movie theater used to educate visitors about the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black unit set up in World War II in a failed attempt to prove that black men could not fly. The aircraft was named for the unit and painted in the unit’s colors, including the distinctive red tail.