America’s Freedom Fest (Goshen, IN) 2018 – Ryan Sundheimer
America’s Freedom Fest (Goshen, IN) 2018 – David Jacobson
Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!
Also be sure to check out our video playlist from the event!
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.
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.
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
A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Thunder Over Michigan 2016 – Ryan Sundheimer
The 2016 Thunder Over Michigan Airshow, organized to support the Yankee Air Museum, featured the USAF F-22 Raptor, Breitling Jet Team, US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet, helicopters, vintage warbirds, and more.
In a post on the Commemorative Air Force B-29/B-24 Squadron’s Facebook page, it was announced that their B-29 Superfortress “Fifi” will be participating in a historic flight at the upcoming Barksdale AFB Defenders of Liberty Air Show, to be held on 30 April and 1 May this year. The post detailed that Fifi will be participating in a formation flight with one of Barksdale’s B-52 Stratofortresses as well as the Lone Star Flight Museum’s B-17 Flying Fortress “Thunderbird.”
While the formation of a B-52 and B-17 has been seen before in recent years, the addition of the B-29 is significant in a historic aspect. Arguably, strategic air power for the United States began shortly before World War II with the US Army Air Corps purchase of Boeing Y1B-17s. Later manufactured and flown in service as the B-17, it became the backbone of air power in the European theater. Following the success of the 17 and strategic bombing, the B-29 would take over as the dominant force behind America’s newly formed Air Force until it’s retirement in 1960. At the dawn of the jet age, the B-29 would then be replaced by multiple new bomber designs until the iconic B-52 ultimately seated itself as the primary bomber of strategic air power for the US Air Force from 1952 on, still serving today.
The planned flight holds significance in the additional regard that the Boeing Company, the manufacturer of all three airframes, celebrates their centennial this year. For spectators at the show, this will be a unique opportunity to see the lineage of US bomber technology and heritage sharing the skies as a veritable bridge across time joining past and present.
Hey AirshowStuff fans, all of our full photo albums from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 have been updated with over 400 amazing photos to browse through! Check out some sample images below, and click the links to view the complete albums!
View full photo album: EAA AirVenture 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer
View full photo album: EAA AirVenture 2015 – Patrick Barron
View full photo album: EAA AirVenture 2015 – Anthony Richards
View full photo album: EAA AirVenture 2015 – David Jacobson
Two new albums have been added to the AirshowStuff photo gallery from Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015 in Madison, WI. We’ve covered the event here in a previous post, but since then it has been announced that the 2016 edition will take place in Janesville, WI instead of Madison. The plan is to rotate between the two cities from now on.
As before, many thanks go to Pete Buffington, Jeff Davis, and Wisconsin Aviation for their hospitality!
Check out our photo albums at the links below!
View full photo album: Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer
View full photo album: Heavy Bombers Weekend 2015 – Patrick Barron
Madison, Wisconsin was the place to be this year for those who wanted to see some warbirds just before EAA AirVenture 2015. Featuring over a dozen rare and unique World War II aircraft, Heavy Bombers Weekend offered fans a great up-close view of aircraft including the B-29 Superfortress, B-17 Flying Fortress, T-6 Texan, and P-51 Mustang. The majority of the aircraft stopped at Dane County Regional Airport on their way to Oshkosh from points all around the country, creating quite an assorted gaggle of types.
As the doors opened at 9:00 am on Friday, fans began trickling in and, in many cases, headed straight for the B-29 Superfortress, “Fifi”. Fifi is currently the only flying B-29 Superfortress in the world (pending the flight readiness of ‘Doc’, another B-29 that is being restored). Others formed a line to go on a tour through EAA’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast”. Rides could be purchased in most of the aircraft, ranging from the T-6 to the P-51 to the B-29. Some were not offering rides but were selling merchandise. A few small booths also offered food, drinks, and trinkets. The event continued Saturday and Sunday.
Make no mistake, the event is not an airshow. Regular traffic at the busy airfield continued throughout the day and the only flights were done for the passengers. Luckily, the B-17, T-6, and P-51 were kept busy with rides throughout the day; even more flights took place over the weekend. Any break in the warbird traffic was filled by airliners and general aviation aircraft. Several UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the National Guard base on the other side of the field flew throughout the day. Eventually EAA’s Ford Trimotor, which had been kept away by dismal weather the day before, arrived and started offering the cheapest rides of the event. Unfortunately, it blew an engine after just a few flights and had to be tucked away for repairs. Perhaps the biggest arrival of the day was the PB4Y-2 Privateer, the last of its kind still flying today. The PB4Y-2 is a naval patrol version of a B-24 Liberator, with a single tail configuration rather than the original twin tail. It served as a patrol bomber during World War II and the Korean War and will be a major attraction at AirVenture in the days to come.
The volunteers did a tremendous job of organizing the event. EAA Chapter 93 provided the volunteers to monitor the ramp and keep spectators off of the active portion. Wisconsin Aviation allowed the use of their impressive facilities, even while dealing with the normal aircraft traffic. The ramp was kept active, but spectators were given plenty of space and time to wander among the aircraft. Many of the crew were nearby to answer questions and swap stories.
Although the event closed at 5:00 pm, AirshowStuff was allowed on the ramp at sunset and into the night for a special photo shoot. We need to thank Pete Buffington, Jeff Davis, and Wisconsin Aviation for this incredible opportunity!
Established in 1979, the Collings Foundation’s mission is to organize and support “living history” events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation. In 1989, the foundation began to focus on the Wings of Freedom Tour, which began with their fully restored Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “Nine-O-Nine” and Consolidated B-24J Liberator that started as “The Dragon And His Tail” before recently being repainted as “Witchcraft.” In recent years, their North American TP-51C Mustang “Betty Jane” and B-25 Mitchell “Tondelayo” have joined in the tour, though rarely are all four together. This year is the exception, as Tondelayo joined the other three already on tour in the Pacific Northwest.
While it’s thrilling to see these aircraft fly, the Collings Foundation ups the experience further by allowing paid ground tours and flights at each of their destinations. Appreciation for a World War II bomber can be found within the small, metal interiors where one can walk from nose to tail taking in the environment that was home and office to young aircrews during the war. Walking around the outside, one can see the blistering armament that served as the aircraft’s only self-defense against determined enemy fighters. But to truly experience the aircraft and the heritage they represent, you have to get airborne.
A flight aboard the bombers costs $450 per person, and is well worth the investment. The crews take you through a safety briefing and allow you the opportunity to turn over the propellers on the engines to prepare for takeoff. Once inside, you can find decent seating in the waist and radio operators room with windows to watch startup and liftoff from. For aviation fans, the sound of those old radials turning over and roaring to life from inside is an exhilarating feeling all its own. Once in the air, all engines humming together, you can get up and tour the aircraft again, seeing local landmarks and terrain below from a perspective otherwise lost in commercial travel.
However, the tour isn’t just for those aviation and history enthusiasts to enjoy and travel back in time with. Veterans of the war can take advantage of visiting these aircraft that hold sentimental connections to their past service and the people they knew during it. The quality restoration work done on each of the participating aircraft is best appreciated by those veterans that served aboard them and whose eyes and hands can best remember their look and feel. The same can be said for those who built the thousands of aircraft from stateside factories. For them, there could not be any better opportunity available today.
The chance to enjoy and learn from these aircraft is thanks to the force behind the Collings Foundation’s success and support: its volunteers. People of all walks of life have made grand commitments to the restoration and maintenance of these aircraft at their home and abroad, and it’s that spirit of involvement and investment that keep these symbols of history flying through the years to come. The air crews that command these aircraft from site to site are all volunteers with their own history to share, as well as those who man the booths and organize the event. When you visit the tour at a stop near you, take the time to thank them for their work and learn from them and others there.
The Wings of Freedom Tour is an annual event, and while the crews are now beginning to make their way back across the nation, you can still find them at these upcoming locations:
*Schedule as of July 11, 2015.
Thank you to the Collings Foundation, Hunter Cheney, and Ryan Keough for allowing us to visit the tour and hop a flight on the B-17 and B-24 from one stop to the next. The experience was wonderful as always!
Thank you to all of our fans for submitting to our Bomber theme week! After 20 weeks, we once again had another record number of submissions! We posted some of our favorite Bomber photos throughout the week, and asked you to share some of your own shots to be featured right here on our blog. Check out just a sampling of the submissions in the slideshow below!
With airshow season just about upon us at AirshowStuff, this next week will be the final theme week, and we want theme weeks to go out with a bang! So this week’s theme is Best of the Best! We want to see the best airshow photo you’ve ever taken! All week long we’ll be posting our very best photos and want to see yours, too! If you would like to contribute to our next theme week, go to our Facebook page, like the page, and upload your photos to our wall!