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

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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!

Warbird Heritage Foundation Suspends Flight Operations, Cancels Appearances Following “Baby Duck” Crash

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Warbird Heritage Foundation's A-4 Skyhawk and P-51 Mustang

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”.

Wings Over Waukegan Announces Cancellation For 2015

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

Wings Over Waukegan Airshow 2014

The Wings Over Waukegan airshow announced on Facebook today that the board of directors has elected to cancel the 2015 show, scheduled for September 12-13. The announcement cites lack of financial standing as well as aerobatic box logistics as the reasons behind the decision. This is extremely disappointing news for Midwest airshow fans, as the usually small, Saturday-only show was going to be much larger this year. The event was scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday, with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, CF-18 Hornet, and US Navy F/A-18 Hornet demonstration teams headlining alongside the traditionally featured warbirds from the Warbird Heritage Foundation, located on the field, as well as civilian aerobatic acts. There is no word yet on where the demonstration teams may perform instead.

Wings Over Waukegan will attempt to return with a one day show in 2016, currently scheduled for September 10.