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

Flooding And More Crane Drama Present Continued Challenges For Thunder Over Louisville In 2015

posted in: Airshows | 0

E-3 Sentry - Thunder Over Louisville 2010

The challenges are continuing to build for this year’s Thunder Over Louisville airshow in Kentucky. Even after the FAA prevented the headlining USAF Thunderbirds and US Navy F-18 Super Hornet from performing (perhaps forever), the event has had even more issues arise.

The show takes place over the Ohio River, which is currently flooded up onto city streets. The photo below was shared by airshow pilot Greg Colyer (T-33 “Ace Maker”) from the Thunder command center downtown. At the lower right, you can see a fence that marks one of the popular seating areas for the show, which is completely submerged. No doubt plenty of other viewing areas are also under water, meaning visitors will be even further from the action than normal. In fact, the river is forecast to reach peak flooding tomorrow at 8 pm – almost exactly during the main part of the event. You can also see the large cranes that started much of this FAA craziness in the background.

Thunder Over Louisville Flooding - Greg Colyer
Part of the Thunder Over Louisville show site – Greg Colyer

In fact, more drama with those cranes arose this week when the FAA dictated that large flags must be placed on the cranes to better mark them as obstacles for the pilots. The insurance company for the crane owners refused to cover sending a worker over the unusually fast and turbulent waters of the flooded river, meaning that for a time it appeared the entire airshow could be canceled. Luckily for the event and fans alike, local firefighters saved the day by holding a training exercise on the cranes while also hanging the flags that the FAA somehow feels will make the gigantic cranes more visible.

This truly has been a bizarre run up to what is regarded as the Midwest’s first major airshow of the season. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue!