A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: America’s Freedom Fest (Goshen, IN) 2017 – Ryan Sundheimer
Also be sure to check out our videos from the show on our Youtube playlist:
Also be sure to check out our videos from the show on our Youtube playlist:
Following the tragic crash of their P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck”, in which pilot Vlado Lenoch and passenger Bethany Root were killed, the Warbird Heritage Foundation has announced that they are standing down from flight operations immediately, and canceling all future 2017 airshow appearances for their aircraft. The foundation is based in Waukegan, IL. In addition to Baby Duck, they own an A-4 Skyhawk, F-86 Sabre, T-2 Buckeye, L-39 Albatros, A-1 Skyraider, T-28 Trojan, and more.
This stand down almost certainly means that their aircraft will not be present at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh next week. Their absence would also be a major blow to the Northern Illinois Airshow in Waukegan if they do not resume flights by early September.
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.
His biography on the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation website gives only a glimpse of his amazing experience:
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!
Be sure to browse the AirshowStuffVideos channel on YouTube for more great videos.
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
– Justin Miner
View the full photo gallery: Heavy Bombers Weekend 2016 – Janesville, WI – Ryan Sundheimer
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.
Check out our coverage of the 2015 Heavy Bombers Weekend as well!
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.
Aviation lost one of its greats one month ago, when R.A. “Bob” Hoover passed away at the age of 94. Bob was without a doubt one of the most legendary pilots to have graced the skies. His exploits in World War II would have been enough for most pilots, but his real fame was gained following the war when he flew as a test pilot and airshow demonstration pilot. He was also an incredible human being who was renowned for his story-telling, energy, and kindness.
True to his form, the aviation community came together a few weeks after his death to celebrate his life, which a star-studded event at Van Nuys airport. Numerous speakers, many aviation legends themselves, took to the stage to share their stories of Bob and his accomplishments. The event eventually moved outside, where a military honor guard fired a gun salute and played taps as three formation of aircraft roared overhead. The first formation was led by a T-39 Sabreliner, one of the many aircraft types that will forever be linked to Hoover. It was joined by two F-16s from the US Air Force Thunderbirds and a CT-114 Tutor from the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. The second formation saw an F-22 Raptor lead a pair of F-86 Sabres, a type that Bob test flew during his career. The final formation had four warbirds; a P-40 Warhawk, an F6F Hellcat, a Spitfire, and perhaps Bob’s most famous airplane, his P-51 Mustang “Ole Yeller”. In a fitting tribute, “Ole Yeller” performed the missing man pull out of the formation as the last notes of taps faded away.
Fortunately, Bob was the subject of many documentaries and interviews during his time with us, and generations to come will have many recordings to hear his wisdom through. Although Bob is gone, he will continue to touch the lives of aviators for a long, long time.
Aviation fans got an early treat this year when a whopping ten TBM Avengers came together for one special weekend in April.
The event, held at the Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru, IL, grew out of an annual private get together organized by local TBM owner Brad Deckert. The idea for this year was to get as many Avengers together as possible, and things quickly grew from there into an open invitation for aircraft and enthusiasts. As word spread and more pilots made plans to attend, estimates grew from 50 airplanes to 100 airplanes to 200 airplanes. Portions of the airport grass were converted to overflow airplane parking, and fuel trucks were purchased and borrowed since the airport had none.
The day before the main event, Friday, featured plenty of action itself. Throughout the day, the lineup of the giant torpedo bombers on the ramp allowed for a running count of Avengers in attendance. One by one they arrived and joined the lineup. The tenth and final aircraft arrived in the late afternoon. The airport was open for normal business all day, so traffic filtered in and out. One Avenger flight was launched in the afternoon; a four-ship formation along with a Cessna 210 photo ship. It was a warm up of sorts for the main photo flight that evening.
As the sun went down, crews gathered with several photographers to brief a major sunset photo flight. By shuffling pilots between airplanes, eight formation-qualified aircraft were established. The plan was to launch as two four-ship flights, Alpha and Bravo, and then join up together. The Cessna and a T-6 Texan were used as photo ships. With sunset approaching, it was a race to get out of the briefing and into the aircraft. AirshowStuff was able to hitch a ride in Bravo Four, the CAF Missouri Wing‘s Avenger and the last aircraft in the formation.
Unfortunately, 70 year old warbirds are not known for reliability and one aircraft could not get started. The rest launched and headed north to find some sunlight. Another aircraft began trailing smoke just after takeoff and returned to the airport as a precaution, leaving six aircraft – three in each flight. Alpha flight was already established in an echelon formation off of the T-6 photo ship when Bravo caught up, so the three newcomers joined up behind them to form a double echelon formation. After a few moments for photos, the formation was shifted into a six-ship echelon, stacked upwards. From our position on the end of the line, we were looking down at the amazing sight of five Avengers and a T-6, all lined up. Thanks to the skill of the pilots, and some pleasantly still evening air, the formation held together quite impressively until it was time to split apart. Two of the Bravo aircraft, including ours, headed back to the airport while the other four stayed for more shots with the other photo ship.
Saturday morning was the opening of the official event, which was completely free. Turnout was fantastic, and the airport was well prepared to handle it. Thousands of people wandered the ramp, getting an up close look at the many different kinds of aircraft parked there. Aided by absolutely perfect weather, arriving aircraft filled the pattern and clogged the taxiways. Several major warbirds, such as two P-51 Mustangs, an AD-4 Skyraider, and a T-28 Trojan flew in for the day as well. The Avengers got things going right off the bat, and launched all nine airworthy aircraft (one was hangared for maintenance) together. A three-ship formation led the parade, with the others following in trail for several passes before landing. The airport remained open the entire time, with more aircraft arriving constantly.
After the main flyby, the flying entertainment was mostly in watching the arrival traffic. The airspace was astoundingly busy, right up there with Oshkosh itself; and at an untowered field no less! Several groups of T-6s performed formation flybys during the the day, and a four-ship of Avengers launched around lunch time for some flybys, including a missing man formation. Several warbirds came back for a flyby before heading home and a pair of T-33s made several passes before landing. Thanks to an aerobatic box at the airport, several pilots took advantage of the opportunity to renew their aerobatic certifications by performing short routines for an observer on the ground. The crowd dwindled as the day went on, and by sunset the Avengers sat peacefully on the ramp.
In the end the event was wildly successful, with over 250 aircraft (52 of them warbirds) in attendance and more than 10,000 people on the ground. Arriving aircraft maxed out at 137 in just an hour – that’s more than two every minute! There is talk of bringing it back next year. If it does return, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better use of a spring day!
The photos shown here are just a small sampling of the event. Please be sure to check out the full Gathering of TBM Avengers 2016 album in our gallery!
Thank you to Brad and Jane Deckert for hosting, to Jordan Brown and the CAF Missouri Wing for allowing us to ride shotgun, and to all of the other pilots and crews that made the event such a success! Be sure to check out Warbird Digest for more photos from the sunset flight!