Douglas C-47 “Bluebonnet Belle” Crashes On Takeoff

posted in: Warbirds | 7

Douglas C-47 Skytrain "Bluebonnet Belle"

Shortly after 9:00 A.M. on Saturday July 21, the Commemorative Air Force’s Douglas C-47 Skytrain “Bluebonnet Belle” reportedly crashed during a takeoff at Burnet Municipal Airport in Burnet, Texas.

Video of the accident shows that the aircraft began to yaw during the takeoff roll. Shortly after lifting off, the left wing dropped and struck the ground. The aircraft then came down and rolled across the grass where shortly before coming to a rest, the aircraft caught fire.

**WARNING: Video contains strong language**
Facebook Video of crash

Of the 13 people inside, all were reportedly able to evacuate the aircraft. Seven are reported with minor injuries with one passenger needing to be airlifted to a nearby hospital. Fire fighters were able to extinguish the fire. Much of the aircraft has been burned away.

“Bluebonnet Belle” was an active part of the Highland Lakes Squadron CAF museum. Named after the city of Burnet, the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas, its history started as part of the Allied Lend-Lease Program serving the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and was most recently involved with the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey last year.

Rob Holland Back In The Air After Crash Landing; Will Resume 2018 Airshow Schedule

posted in: Aerobatics | 1

Rob Holland

Airshow pilot and four time consecutive world freestyle champion Rob Holland is ready to take to the skies at airshows across the states again after being reacquainted with an old friend.

Holland has leased his previous MX2 from the current owner, Marty Flournoy. Holland sold the aircraft to Flourney, himself an aerobatic pilot, after acquiring the custom-built MXS-RH that was heavily damaged in a forced landing a few weeks ago.

Rob says this is his way of “moving forward” with the 2018 show season following the incident. The aircraft has already been painted and wrapped in sponsor logos.

You can view Rob Holland’s 2018 show schedule on our forums.

Here’s a video of Rob flying his old MX2 at the 2010 Rockford Airfest.

Rob Holland Safe After Forced Landing In Texas

posted in: Aerobatics | 5

Rob Holland

Airshow pilot Rob Holland is safe after his custom MXS-RH aircraft went down late Sunday evening. Rob was flying from NAS Kingsville, TX to Shreveport, LA after performing at the Wings Over South Texas airshow on the weekend. While in cruise at 11,500 feet, he lost his engine and oil covered his windshield. He flew the aircraft to an abandoned airport, where he hit debris on the runway that totaled the aircraft.

Rob Holland

Rob is a four-time, consecutive, World 4-minute Freestyle Champion as well as a seven-time, consecutive, US National Aerobatic Champion. He performs at airshows with a solo aerobatic routine as well as with other aerobatic pilots such as Bill Stein and Matt Chapman. He is known for his highly original maneuvers.

We are very glad to hear Rob is ok, and look forward to seeing him at an airshow soon!

Here is the full post from Rob’s Facebook page:

For all those who know or don’t know, I thought I would fill you in about the events of the past few days.

First to get it out of the way, I’m 100% fine.

That said, On March 25th I took off from NAS Kingsville, Texas at about 4:30pm for a cross-country flight to Shreveport, Louisiana. About 15 minutes into the flight, level at 11,500 ft., I had a catastrophic engine failure and lost all engine power. I will not speculate as to the cause of the failure and will let the FAA and NTSB finish their investigation.

The Canopy was immediately covered with oil and I had zero forward visibility.

I quickly determined that an off-field landing was not the best option given the terrain. Also, using the parachute was also not a good option due to very high wind speed at the surface. There was one “airport” within gliding distance and I immediately aimed for it. Thank you to MGL Avionics for such an awesome EFIS system, which helped tremendously for my situational awareness.

There was a low scattered-to-broken cloud layer around the vicinity of my landing site which obstructed my view of the runway (I still could only see directly out of the side of the plane due to the oil on the canopy). I glided through an opening in the clouds using GPS as a reference for the location of the airport.

It turns out what I thought was a private airstrip was actually an abandoned airport that was about 30 ft. wide and only 1,650 ft. long (interesting that it is still listed in the FAA Database as an airport). When I finally got low enough so that the clouds no longer obstructed my view of the runway, I was at 700 ft. and committed to making a downwind landing because of my position.

I lined up on the runway as best I could, still having zero forward visibility. I touched down on the runway at about 90 kts. (normal speed for this plane), but with a 20+ knot tailwind bringing my forward speed to 110kts.

What I couldn’t see due to the oil on my canopy was a large piece of someone’s roof on the runway that had blown there by Hurricane Harvey. After about 200 ft. of landing roll, the left main landing gear struck that piece of debris ripping the landing gear completely off the plane. The plane skidded on its belly down the runway, departing to the side of the runway, coming to rest about 30 ft. off the right side of the runway. The plane remained upright and straight the entire time.

I assessed that I was physically ok, turned off the fuel, the mags, and all electrical power, and then departed the plane.

I have to throw out another HUGE thank you to Hooker Harness and BoneHead Composites for an AMAZING SAFETY BELT SYSTEM and FANTASTIC HELMET, both of which undoubtedly prevented me from suffering any injuries, it was a pretty violent ride when the gear came off.

Lastly I’d like to express my gratitude to MX Aircraft Company. The airframe did an amazing job of absorbing impact energy helping to protect me from injury. Unfortunately the damage to the airplane is too extensive to repair. I am already working with MX Aircraft and there will be a new plane in the future, updates and details will follow.

The next week or so will be very busy for me moving forward with as little (hopefully none) disruption to my schedule as possible.

There are too many people to name here but thank you to my family, friends, sponsors and supporters for all your help, well wishes, and thoughts.

Blue Skies,
Rob

Historic Warbirds Return To Service, Transport Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Harvey

posted in: Popular Posts, Warbirds | 1

On Friday, August 25th, the eye of Hurricane Harvey, a strong category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph, made landfall near Rockport, TX. Over the next week, the center of Harvey would sit and spin over Texas, dropping 40-50 inches of rain! This amount of rain resulted in catastrophic and life threatening flooding across southeast Texas, including the Beaumont, TX area.

Beaumont sits about 1 hour and 15 minutes to the east of the Houston Metro. When Harvey’s rains hit, the town’s 118,000+ people were devastated. While most of the national media’s attention was on the Houston Metro, other areas in Texas were also struggling.

In Georgetown, TX, located outside of Austin, citizens started gathering supplies. A call went out for general aviation aircraft and pilots in the area to help take supplies down to Beaumont. The Commemorative Air Forces’s Highland Lakes Squadron, with their Douglas C-47 “Bluebonnet Belle”, answered that call.

The C-47 has a history of transporting important cargo. During World War II, the platform was used to carry jeeps, troops, or up to 6,000 pounds of other cargo. It was used by every branch of the US military and all of the major allied powers.

When Texas needed it, the C-47 stepped back into service – more than 70 years after the war that made the type famous. The cabin was loaded with diapers, food, and water before the aircraft launched on the hour and a half trip from Georgetown to Beaumont.

In a post on the Commemorative Air Force Facebook page, the CAF said, “When the Texas National Guard showed up with their Deuce and a half truck, we knew we had brought supplies to the right place. A troop of soldiers descended on the C-47 unloading box after box directly onto the military truck. This was only the first load of supplies and so long as there is a need the CAF is planning to help.”


Photos from David Oliver

The C-47 wasn’t the only aircraft that helped with Harvey relief. The B-25 Mitchell “Devil Dog”, also a CAF aircraft, transported supplies to impacted areas as well. These including, rather fittingly, 500 pounds of dog food for displaced pets.

Well done by these resilient old airframes and the volunteers that support, maintain, and fly them!

B-25 Devil Dog Aids Harvey Relief

QF-4 Phantoms To Perform Flyover At Sunday’s NASCAR Race in Texas

posted in: Flyovers | 0

USAF QF-4 Phantom IIs
This Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will have a special treat – two QF-4 Phantoms for the pre-race flyover!

The flyover is scheduled for 2:02 pm eastern, 1:02 central time before the start of the race.

The QF-4s will base out of the Fort Worth/Alliance Airport, about 14 miles north of Fort Worth and very close to the Texas Motor Speedway. Expect them to arrive on Friday, November 4th.

If you live in the area, you may want to head out to catch the Phantom one last time. It’s possible the pilots may do some low approaches on arrival and departure!

What’s it like to flyover thousands of people in a QF-4? Find out in our RideAlong video below from Oshkosh!

Soggy Parking Fields Force Warbirds Over Hondo to Cancel Airshow

posted in: Airshows | 0

Airshow Performer Kyle Franklin

Due to saturated grounds limiting the available parking, the Warbirds Over Hondo airshow scheduled for tomorrow, May 16, has been cancelled. The show, located west of San Antonio, TX, searched for alternatives to their grass parking lots, but no location was found and show organizers were forced to cancel the show. Kyle Franklin and various World War II aircraft were scheduled to fly at the airshow, intended to honor the military on Armed Forces Day.

Rainfall data provided by the National Weather Service indicates over 1″ of rain has fallen in the Hondo area in the past 12 hours alone. The region received over 4″ in the past 7 days.

Officials with Warbirds Over Hondo hope to reschedule the show for a future date.

Rainfall Data For Wings Over Hondo
Rainfall over the past 7 Days

Jasper Airshow Canceled Due to Forecast

posted in: Airshows | 0

Skip Stewart - Jasper Airshow 2015

In an unusual move, the Jasper Airshow in Jasper, TX has been canceled less than a week in advance. The show’s website now features a statement that a forecast of thunderstorms for the planned March 21-22 dates led to the cancelation, a decision made earlier this week. Organizers say they will attempt to reschedule the event for a weekend in the fall instead. The rest of the show’s website has been disabled in the mean time. Skip Stewart, Tora Tora Tora, and other various warbird and aerobatic acts were scheduled to perform.

Although it is very uncommon for a show to cancel on such short notice, it is not unheard of. In 2008, the massive Royal International Air Tattoo airshow in the UK, more popularly known as RIAT, canceled its public airshow just the day before it was to start. Organizers explained that heavy rains had drenched the airport and parking fields and created numerous safety concerns for attendees. Last year, the Gary South Shore Airshow was canceled several weeks ahead of time in a similar situation of waterlogged grounds that the organizers insisted would not recover in time for the show.