George H. W. Bush To Be Buried In Blue Angel Socks As Eternal Tribute To Navy Service

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TBM Avenger "George Bush" - AirshowStuff

When former President George H. W. Bush is buried this week, the US Navy Blue Angels will be with him. On his socks.

The 41st President was well known for his love of colorful socks, often using them to make a statement or support a cause. Bush’s spokesman Jim McGrath shared this image on Twitter of the final pair of socks, which feature the iconic Blue Angel delta formation, with smoke on, against a blue sky. Also featured are the Wings of Gold that signify a naval aviator.


It’s entirely fitting that Bush will represent the Navy in his grave. After all, he flew 58 combat missions in TBM Avenger torpedo bombers for the US Navy in World War II. He was shot down during an attack mission in 1944 and rescued by a submarine. The final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to enter Navy service, CVN-77, is named for him.

He was made an Honorary Blue Angel in 2014.


Aviation continued to play a part in Bush’s life until the very end. The code-word used by family and friends to privately share news of his death was “CAVU”, an aviation acronym for ‘ceiling and visibility unlimited’ that signifies weather that presents no restrictions on flying.

Bush’s legacy as a naval aviator will live on; at least two civilian-owned TBM Avengers bear his name as part of their paint schemes.

WATCH: Classic Warbird Sunset Flight – Ride Along With Six TBM Avengers!

Turkeys CAN Fly!

We here at AirshowStuff.com think you’ll agree that few things sound better than the radial engine of a classic warbird. Unless, of course, it’s SIX radial engines! In 2016, the Illinois Regional Valley airport in Peru, IL hosted their first TBM Avenger Gathering where ten TBM Avengers (along with many other classic warbirds) met for an unforgettable weekend showcasing this legend of World War II. Affectionately nicknamed “The Turkey” for its large size, the Avenger was designed as a torpedo bomber and saw action in the Pacific theater. Avengers were even piloted by such famous people as former President George H. W. Bush and movie star Paul Newman!

From taxi to landing, you get a cockpit view from one of the immaculately-restored Avengers taking part in a formation flight at dusk. The golden glow of the sunset, along with the six other Avengers, makes for some spectacular scenery. You’ll see various formations being flown, and even get a glimpse of a T-6 Texan photo ship capturing the action as well. The sound of the radial engine’s throaty roar takes you back to when these large aircraft patrolled the skies, looking for Japanese ships. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this thrilling video and all it has to offer, you won’t be disappointed!

Be sure to browse the AirshowStuffVideos channel on YouTube for more great videos.

-Justin Miner

TBM AvengerTBM Avenger Star Trail

TBM Avenger Gathering Promises To Be Even Bigger In 2017

posted in: Airshows, Warbirds | 2

TBM Avenger Gathering 2016

The Gathering of TBM Avengers will return for the second year in a row and promises to be even bigger and better! This year a whopping sixteen TBMs (and TBFs) have verbally committed to the event, which will be held on Saturday, May 20th in Peru, IL. Numerous other warbird crews have expressed interest in flying in as well, including B-25 Mitchells, A-1 Skyraiders, and P-51 Mustangs, as well as an F4U Corsair, F8F Bearcat, F4F Wildcat, F-86 Sabre, MiG-17 Fresco, and T-33 Shooting Star.

TBM Avenger Gathering 2016TBM Avenger Gathering 2016

Over 250 aircraft (including 10 Avengers) and 10,000 people turned out for the first event last April, taking advantage of the beautiful weather to kick off the summer flying season. It was undoubtedly one of the best early-season events in the Midwest, and we are excited that it will be continuing.

This year’s event will be set up very similar to the last one. Attendees should plan to arrive at Illinois Valley Regional Airport (KVYS in Peru) in the mid-morning. Both parking and admission are free this year, thanks to the sponsorship of Marquis Energy! Food and drinks will be available on the airport, and several warbirds will be offering rides.

TBM Avenger Gathering 2016TBM Avenger Gathering 2016

One important difference is that the airspace around the area will be “waivered” from 12 to 4pm. This will allow the warbirds to perform more than they could last year – it should feel a bit more like an airshow. Pilots that plan to fly in will need to be aware of the change.

With a little good weather, this event should again prove to be the grand opening of airshow season in these parts. Our own Anthony Richards designed this flyer for the event, which is being passed around as an open invitation to pilots and enthusiasts alike. We hope you will help us spread the word, and that you will join us there!

Be sure to check in on our forums for future updates, to share your thoughts, and to post your own photos from the event!

TBM Avenger Gathering 2017

TBM Avenger Gathering Kicks Off Summer With A Bang

posted in: AirshowStuff, Event Recap, Warbirds | 0

TBM Avenger Photo Flight

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.

TBM AvengersTBM Avengers

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.

TBM Avenger Photo FlightTBM Avenger Photo Flight

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.

TBM AvengersT-6 Texan at sunset

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.

TBM Avenger at sunsetP-51 Mustangs

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.

TBM Avengers at sunset

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!

TBM Avengers at nightTBM Avenger

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!