The Warbird Heritage Foundation announced Wednesday that they’ve purchased the P-51 Mustang named “Moonbeam McSwine” from its most recent owner, Mr. Frederic Akary of France. The aircraft will reside under a new FAA registration number, N51VL, in honor of Vlado Lenoch.
Vlado and Moonbeam were synonymous; he flew the aircraft for over 20 years before he sold it to Akary in 2012 and began flying WHF’s P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” at airshows instead. Vlado and passenger Bethany Root were flying in Baby Duck when they were killed in a crash last July. The aircraft was completely destroyed in the incident.
Rumors have been swirling for weeks now that Moonbeam was being brought home to the US to be flown as a tribute to Vlado, but until today nothing was confirmed publicly. The aircraft has arrived from overseas and is scheduled to be re-assembled at Tab-Air in East Troy, WI before joining the WHF fleet in Waukegan, IL. If all goes well, the aircraft should be up and flying in time for this summer’s airshow season!
Moonbeam’s history dates back to October of 1944, when it was manufactured in Inglewood, CA. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, Moonbeam raced in the Reno Air Races. Vlado flew it regularly in the United States Air Force Heritage Flight program (see the video below) before he sold it to Frederic Akary in 2012. Since then, it has been seen regularly at airshows across Europe.
We were fortunate to work with Vlado for many years, and continue to mourn his loss. This tribute is well deserved, and Moonbeam will certainly see many emotional reunions with Vlado’s friends as it returns to the airshow circuit. We look forward to bringing you plenty of photos and videos of this piece of history!
Sunday is a great day if you love aviation, or racing. With Indycar in Indianapolis for the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR in Charlotte for the Coke 600, there’s plenty of racing action. With Memorial Day on Monday, both racing series are honoring those who flew and gave their all with flyovers before the races.
The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 will feature two flyovers. The first flyover will be a two ship formation of a TBM-3E Avenger and a P-51 Mustang. Both aircraft are from the Commemorative Air Force. The second flyover will be a four ship of F/A-18 Hornets and E/A-18G Growlers from VFA-81 and VAQ-139. VFA-81 is based at NAS Oceana while VAQ-139 is home based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State.
Four F-15E Strike Eagles will fly over the Coke 600 in Charlotte as well. Weather pending, the flyover should occur around 6pm. You can watch the race on your local ABC affiliate.
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!
The pilot of a WWII-era P-51 Mustang was killed today when the aircraft crashed in Maricopa, AZ today. There is no information available on what caused the crash, but photos from the scene show the aircraft totally destroyed. Reports say the aircraft burned after impacting the ground.
The pilot’s name is being withheld until next of kin can be notified. Inspection of crash site photos seems to indicate that the aircraft is one named “Big Beautiful Doll”, which is registered in Chandler, AZ as N551JP. This is the second incident involving a P-51 this week.
A separate P-51, also painted as “Big Beautiful Doll”, crashed at a UK airshow in 2011. That pilot was able to parachute to safety.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the pilot.
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.
While on a fuel stop on the morning of September 8th, the Reno Air Racer “Precious Metal”, a heavily modified P-51 Mustang, was heavily damaged in a ground fire. The pilot escaped without injury but the aircraft is being described as a total loss. A post by the Precious Metal Air Racing Fan Page reads:
Dear Race Fans,
It’s with a heavy heart I am forced to announce the end of Precious Metal’s air racing career. She sustained heavy damage in a ground fire at a fuel stop this afternoon.
The aircraft was running fine and I was taxying out of the chocks after fueling up, a gentleman came running and signaled me to shut down. I had no idea I was on fire until he alerted me as it was under the airplane. By the time I came to a stop the flames were reaching the cockpit on the left side and I abandoned ship. There was no time to attempt fighting the fire as we feared an imminent explosion with 190 gallons of fuel onboard.
The fire department showed up after about 12 minutes and took 20 minutes to put the flames out with foam. But the damage was done. The aircraft is intact, but sustained heavy damage.
Thank you for all the support over the years, you are the best fans.
Richard was en-route to this year’s Reno Air Races, scheduled for Sept. 16-20, when the incident occurred. Richard is the team leader of Team Precious Metal. The aircraft was the only Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered P-51 and is based at the Kissimmee Air Museum in central Florida.
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:
Ft. Collins, CO – Jul 10-12
Garland, NE – Jul 13-15
Lincoln, NE – Jul 15-17
Omaha, NE – Jul 17-19
Mason City, IA – Jul 20-22
Waterloo, IA – Jul 22-24
West Chicago, IL – Jul 24-26
Griffith, IL – Jul 27-29
Waukegan, IL – Jul 29-31
Chicago, IL – Jul 31-Aug 2
Valparaiso, IN – Aug 3-5
Kalamazoo, MI – Aug 5-7
Flint, MI – Aug 7-9
Port Clinton, MI – Aug 10-12
Cleveland , OH – Aug 12-14
Akron-Canton, OH – Aug 14-16
Jamestown, NY – Aug 17-19
Penn Yan, NY – Aug 19-21
Poughkeepsie, NY – Aug 21-23
Hazelton, PA – Aug 24-26
Wall Township, NJ – Aug 26-31
Trenton, NJ – Aug 31-Sept 2
Cape May, NJ – Sept 4-7
Worcester, MA – Sept 25-27
*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!
It’s a well known fact that participating in airshows is expensive – planes, fuel, smoke oil, travel, and hotel costs all take a toll on the airshow performer. It’s harder and harder to get and keep sponsorship now than it used to be. As a result, a few airshow performers have taken to unconventional ways of trying to raise funds.
Patty Wagstaff, a Bill Barber Award for Showmanship recipient and inductee into many airshow and aviation hall of fames is asking for help to raise money for a new airplane. She started a GoFundMe campaign, a popular way to raise money through crowd sourcing.
Since starting on July 3rd, the campaign has raised $3,275 (as of July 10th) and is asking for nearly $450,000. Patty, who started the campaign herself posted an explanation on her Facebook fan page for the campaign after receiving some criticism. In it, she says she figured “why not?” when starting the campaign. She needs “a new airplane and needs support,” and says that she “loves supporting other people and think(s) people have been pretty successful on crowdfunding sites.” Fans so far seem to be supportive of her, at least verbally on her fan pages. The page has accumulated over 1,200 total shares.
In addition to Patty’s campaign, another airshow performer, Scott Yoak, who flies a P-51 Mustang affectionately known as “Quicksilver” is also asking for help. Scott’s campaign won’t require you to pull out your credit card though; Quicksilver is in a contest run by Wells Fargo Bank to help out small businesses. Applicants had to write an essay or submit a video saying why they decided to start their business, their mission, the biggest challenge they face, what upcoming business opportunities they seek in the next 2-5 years, and how they would spend $25,000.
Scott talks about keeping history alive and how he and his father, Bill Yoak created Quicksilver P-51 Airshows to “provide a unique opportunity for airshow audiences to see, feel, and hear the power and vibrations of a historic aircraft that helped free a world at war.”
The finalists and grand prize winners will be announced in September. As of July 10th, the entry had over 3,100 views. The number of votes was not given.