Keep your eyes to the sky (or more likely, your TV screen) before the kickoff of Super Bowl LII on February 4th – there will be a special US Air Force Heritage Flight flyover for the national anthem! The formation will feature the World War II-era P-51 Mustang “Sierra Sue II” leading two A-10 Warthogs and an F-16 Fighting Falcon.
It’s interesting that any flyover is planned, because the game is being played inside the fully enclosed U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Nevertheless, there will hopefully be sufficient coverage for everyone outside of the stadium to enjoy the flight. The game, between the Patriots and the Eagles, is scheduled to start at 6:30 pm eastern time and will be broadcast on NBC.
Sierra Sue II is a combat veteran P-51 that is owned by the Wings of the North museum, located just outside of Minneapolis in Eden Prairie. Heritage Flight-approved pilot Steve Hinton will be at the controls during the flyover.
Here is the full statement from the WHF Facebook page:
All of us at the Warbird Heritage Foundation are deeply saddened at the death of our close friend and superb fellow pilot, Vlado Lenoch.
Vlado and a passenger passed away yesterday morning while flying in our P-51 Mustang, “Baby Duck”.
The Warbird Heritage Foundation will make no further comment regarding this tragic event until after the FAA, NTSB, and other relevant parties have completed their respective investigations.
Effective immediately, all WHF flight operations will be temporarily suspended until further notice. Also, the Warbird Heritage Foundation is cancelling the airshow appearances of all of our aircraft for the remainder of the 2017 airshow season.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Vlado’s family and friends and to the family and friends of the passenger aboard “Baby Duck”.
Nearly everyone in the airshow community lost a friend this weekend. Pilot Vlado Lenoch, along with passenger Bethany Root, was killed when the P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” crashed near Atchison, Kansas Sunday morning. Vlado had performed at the Amelia Earhart Festival the previous night in Atchison. Bethany was the manager of the airport there, and Vlado was no doubt taking her for a flight before heading home.
Vlado was an airshow and warbird icon, and one of the most prolific pilots here in the Midwest. He flew many types, but was most closely associated with P-51 Mustangs; especially “Moonbeam McSwine”, which he owned for many years. After selling Moonbeam he instead became synonymous with Baby Duck and frequently flew it all across the Midwest. He was also an Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (ACE) for other pilots and one of the few civilian pilots in the US Air Force Heritage Flight program.
Vlado Lenoch of Burr Ridge, Illinois is married with three children. His love of aviation began in 1970 when, at age 17, he learned to fly at Chicago’s Midway Airport. He earned an aeronautical engineering degree from Purdue and a Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following college, he was employed at the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company in Seattle as a 747 instructor. From that point, he was employed at two major airlines flying the Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-9 aircraft. Currently, he flies a corporate Citation jet for a private company in Illinois.
Lenoch is a licensed Airline Transport pilot with flight instructor ratings in single and multi-engine aircraft, instruments and gliders. He holds authorization for the B-727, Cessna 525, F-86, A-1, A-37, L-39, T-33, P-40, P-47, P-51, F6F, F4U and T-28 aircraft. Vlado has over 11,000 hours of flight time and has built his own aircraft, a Pitts S-1T biplane, which he competes in at the highest level.
A member since 1997, the year in which the Heritage Flight program was founded, Vlado is one of the most seasoned pilots. He has been a director in the FAST Fighter Formation program since 1990 and an ICAS and EAA Warbird Aerobatic Competency Evaluator since 1995. Vlado is a lifetime member in the Commemorative Air Force, Soaring Society of America and Experimental Aircraft Association. Vlado’s great uncle, Cvitan Galic (of Czech ancestry), was a 39-victory Luftwaffe Fighter Ace in the Me-109 in World War II.
Vlado was also famous for his laid back and friendly attitude. Everyone was his friend, and he was always willing to help us pesky photographers out. We worked with him on many occasions through the years, setting up on board cameras and taking photos of the cockpit. Two of us were standing on Baby Duck’s wing doing just that only two weeks ago – we took a smiling selfie that is almost haunting now. We were starting to look at that footage today, before the news broke. All of us here at AirshowStuff, and so many more like us, will miss Vlado terribly. Our condolences further go out to his family as well as the family of his passenger.
Volumes could be written about Vlado’s kind heart and piloting skill, but we think the best tribute is to simply watch the master pilot work at what he loved. Enjoy the video below, remember the smiles he brought to everyone’s face, and keep ’em flying. Please share your own photos, videos, and memories of Vlado in our forums – we want to see them all as we attempt to process this tremendous loss.
Exciting news for airshow fans in Europe! The beautifully restored P-51B Mustang “Berlin Express” will be flown across the Atlantic this summer in order to perform at the 2017 Flying Legends airshow in Duxford on July 8th and 9th. “Berlin Express” was restored by the staff at Pacific Fighters in Idaho Falls, ID and returned to flight in November of 2014. She is based on the skeleton of P-51B 43-24837, which flew from the UK during the war. We caught her at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh in 2015, where she was a notable guest of the event.
From the Flying Legends performer page: The restored fighter is based around the remains of P-51B 43-24837. This Mustang flew with the 9th Air Force’s 363rd Fighter Group out of RAF Staplehurst in Kent, England. It crashed in Beckley after the pilot was forced to bail out during a training exercise on June 10th, 1944. Sporting a “Malcolm Hood” canopy and wearing the markings for “Berlin Express”, Comanche Fighters newest Mustang is dressed exactly like the 357th Fighter Group Mustang which the legendary American ace Bill Overstreet flew under the Eiffel tower while successfully shooting down a Messerschmitt Me-109 in 1944.
The Texas Flying Legends Museum in Houston, TX owns an impressive collection of WWII-era warbirds, and they put on an amazing display last year at AirVenture! With aircraft ranging from P-51 Mustangs to a British Spitfire to the B-25 Mitchell, this video has some serious warbird punch, including some excellent pyro. Check out this video where you get to see legends like the Mitchell, Mustang, Spitfire, Corsair, Wildcat, and Warhawk perform pass after pass. Strafing, bombing, diving, and climbing as they put on a show for the ages.
You’ll get to see a rare formation of the aircraft flying overhead. You’ll hear the beautiful sound of the Merlin engines of the Mustang along with the deep and throaty roar of the Mitchell as it passes before you with the bomb bay doors open. You’ll get the full effect of the machine gun chatter as the fighters pass by, and you can almost feel the heat from the explosions as they burst below these beautiful aircraft. So if you enjoy warbirds, and who doesn’t really, then turn up the volume and enjoy this awesome video!
Exciting news for fans of the Horsemen Flight Team, and warbird enthusiasts in general! Last week, it was announced that the Horsemen would be returning for a four show season in 2017. Consisting of Lead pilot Steve Hinton, Left Wing pilot Ed Shipley, and Right Wing pilot Dan Friedkin, the Horsemen have been dazzling airshow fans since their inception in 1994. With a motto of “Escape Life’s Gravity”, the team’s formation flying will have you watching in awe as they loop, roll, climb, bank, and turn as one unit in legendary aircraft like the P-51 Mustang, P-38 Lightning, F8F Bearcat, and F-86 Sabre.
The team took the 2016 season off, but announced their return with an incredible video and website. You can see their 2017 airshow schedule below. Although they have been known to switch to different aircraft in the past, they say that they are planning to feature two P-51s and a P-38 in their routine this year.
2017 Horsemen Flight Team Airshow Schedule
Duxford Flying Legends Flying Legends
IWM Duxford, Cambridgeshire
Selfridge Open House
Harrison Charter Township, MI
September 29 – October 1
Huntington Beach Air Show
Huntington Beach, CA – Pier
Aviation Nation Nellis Air Force Base Open House & Air Show
Las Vegas, NV
The 2016 edition of Heavy Bombers Weekend was held at the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville, WI. The fly-in is a popular stop for warbirds traveling to the EAA AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh. Even on the opening day of the event, many different aircraft were on hand to take passengers for rides, including EAA’s B-17 Flying Fortress “Aluminum Overcast”, the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 Superfortress “FIFI”, and the P-51 Mustang “Gunfighter”. Ground tours were included in the price of admission, giving all of the attendees a chance to touch and feel history. The event plans to shift back to its previous home in Madison, WI in 2017 and alternate between the two airports each year.