Warbird Heritage Foundation Acquires P-51 Mustang “Moonbeam McSwine” To Honor Vlado Lenoch

posted in: Warbirds | 8

Vlado Lenoch and Moonbeam McSwine

Moonbeam McSwine is coming home!

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.

Moonbeam McSwine ReassemblyMoonbeam McSwine Reassembly

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 McSwine Reassembly

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!

World’s Oldest Jet Returns To Flight

posted in: Warbirds | 25

F-86A Sabre - World's Oldest Jet - Flies Again

The world’s oldest flyable jet, and one of the last remaining F-86A Sabres, S/N 48-178, took to the skies once again today in Rockford, IL. This is a major milestone in the recent acquisition of the Sabre by Heritage Aero Inc, which is based in Rockford, on behalf of a US collector. Paul Wood was at the controls for the two flights made by the Sabre, which was accompanied by a T-33 chase plane. The first flight was originally expected to occur before this year’s EAA AirVenture earlier in July, but was delayed by mechanical issues.

Sabre 48-178 has been through numerous private owners and restorations throughout it’s life, originating in Everett, WA in 1970 to Golden Apple Operations in the UK (1992)and finally to Heritage Aero late last year. These flights are a promising sign that we should see her on the airshow circuit next year!

All images courtesy of David Charles Lindberg

F-86A Sabre - World's Oldest Jet - Flies Again

F-86A Sabre - World's Oldest Jet - Flies AgainF-86A Sabre - World's Oldest Jet - Flies Again