Category Archives: Antique Planes

Over the Fence

Some of the best photos of planes coming over the fence that I’ve seen. (click link for slideshow).

(h/t to Rob – great stuff)

Low and Slow

A terrific travelogue from Bern Heimos, flying throughout the U.S. in his yellow Piper Cub at an average speed of 67mph. I’ve had the impression that the Cub was a plane to be flown for fun and not necessarily to get somewhere since it is speed challenged (having flown one only once, I don’t claim to be an expert). No IFR instrumentation if you run into poor visibility. No radios. No,lights.  Less is more in this aircraft with a fuel gage that is simply a wire on a cork out the front windscreen. Open the windows and doors on a summer day, and begin the take off roll down a freshly mowed grass carpet. In a few hundred feet, up you go. Climb out , cruise and landing are all about the same speed which is to say, mighty slow.

And that’s just what you want too. Time to see everything. Enjoy the ride. Time to go nowhere if you want and that’s what I did, slowing the plane to near stall speed with 20 knots of wind  aloft. It made it appear like I was standing still.

A hat tip to my friend Lex for sharing this one. You’ll easily burn up a half hour enjoying the journey.

For those interested in this type of general aviation, read Flight of Passage which follows the adventures of two teenage boys who rebuilt a Piper Cub and flew it from New Jersey to California, becoming the youngest avaiators to fly coast to coast in 1966.

Disneyland for Aviators

Airventure began with rain, mud and more rain. Sploshkosh and Aquaventure were used to describe aviation’s biggest event. The most challenging ever according to organizers. Not surprisingly, attendance was down early in the week and fewer planes made the trip. The annual mass arrivals of Bonanzas, Cessnas, and Mooneys just didn’t happen. The phenomenal volunteers rallied, pumping out water, laying sod and bringing in woodchips and it was still pretty great.

 There’s something for everyone who loves aviation. If you were in the market for a new plane, it was one gigantic motor mall with every manufacturer represented. If you want a carbon fiber Cub with Tundra tires, they had it. Aerobatic planes? Pick from a range from top performance to build your own. I was intrigued by the amphibious Icon A5.It was all there, from low and slow ultralights to rocket powered helos and single pilot jets.

 There were hundreds of exhibits, seminars; panel discussions and workshops. It meant choosing among the “must see” since there were up to 30 events all taking place in a single one hour time slot. In between you can admire thousands of planes of every type and description.  Showplanes, Homebuilts, Vintage, Warbirds, Ultralights, Seaplanes and rotorcraft. Who wouldn’t be impressed by rows of P-51’s and T-28’s? Rare planes became commonplace. They had four B-17’s! One guy even proposed on a Flying Fortress.-she said yes. (My wife would have clobbered me if I’d tried that). I also spent a little time with Glacier Girl, whose good looks drew many admirers.

An air show was held each afternoon but planes were in the sky all the time. A flight of F-15’s roared overhead while I waited in line for a sandwich. Look- there goes an F-18 in full grunt. Where did that V-22 Osprey come from? Wow, a flight of T-33’s. A steady stream of planes were arriving and departing until the airshow began.

 Mostly, the pilgrimage to Oshkosh was about hanging out with fellow pilots and aviation fans. I was among friends. Some close and another half million I had yet to meet.

Oshkosh has been named a ‘Tier 1 Event” by the U.S. Navy for its centennial celebration of naval aviation in 2011. A good reason to clear your calendar from July 25-31 next year.

Here’s a one minute video summary : Airventure 2010.

See You at Airventure

If you like anything related to flying you need to be here. This clip explains why:

10,000 planes; 578,000 aviation enthusiasts; 750 exhibitors and 1,000 demonstrations. Just to name a few: 

  • C.E. “Bud” Anderson, Jack Roush, Jim Hagedorn with two Old Crow P-51s
  • D-Day paratroopers Col. Ed Shames and 1st Lt. Fred Bahlau with the C-47 Tico Belle
  • “Max Effort” Air Show featuring DC-3/C-47 formation flights and aerial displays 
  • Christina Olds with the Collings Foundation F-4.
  • The Lonestar Flight Museum’s B-17  
  • Buck & Bill Patillo with 2 P-51s, Sweet & Lovely and Little Rebel
  • World Symposium on Electric Aircraft by GE Aviation
  • Bob Hoover with the Vintage Wings of Canada’ s F-86
  • Salute to Veterans with aerial demonstrations 
  • The Douglas AD-1 Skyraider
  • Daily Air Shows and even one at night

July 26th through August 1st in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. What’s not to like?

Aerobatics in a Bi –Plane

Because that’s all they had in 1918. The book “Aerobatics” (you can view all 130 pages using the link) was written by Captain H. Barber and includes flying the “cartwheel”. My current recollection of cartwheels has a certain fatal quality but they meant something different in the way back. Must have had a whole lot of rudder authority to pull that off.

They would have been amazed at the aerial antics of the Extra 300.


The copilot did his best to go flying in this historic 1950’s Handley Page Victor today. Since that was never the plan, the suprized pilot did his best to level the plane and bring her back to earth. Bob Prothero averted a disaster during “Cold War Jets Day” in England after the co-pilot hit throttle  by mistake.

The crew was only supposed to taxi the aircraft on the runway closer to the crowd for photos when the co-pilot inadvertently firewalled the throttles and the bomber accelerated down the runway.  The aircraft briefly lifted off and veered left, reaching as high as 150 feet, before retired RAF pilot Bob Prothero was able to nurse the barely flying bomber back down to a landing on the grass beyond the end of the runway.

It’s probably a good idea to brief the controls with a non pilot. Made it a more exciting airshow though.

Aviation’s Disneyland

There is no easy way to describe the Airventure experience. For one week, Oshkosh Wisconsin became the hub of general aviation news; innovation and activity and for thousands of people. Total immersion in all things aviation. It would be reason enough to make the trip to see countless airplanes parked by type and in many areas by model. Over 10,000 planes made the trip. Ultralights; Vintage Planes; Warbirds; Experimental; Aerobatic. I’ve seen small airports build a Fly –In Air show around the venerable P-51. At Oshkosh there were at least two dozen of them beautifully restored.  P51sThere were DC-3’s that blazed the trail for passenger aviation , featured prominently in Gann’s “Fate is the Hunter”. I admired a Beech Staggerwing (below), Beech Staggerwing“Executive Air travel” of it’s era while a Lancaster Bomber lumbered overhead. Lancaster in AirAs I walked by a line of radial engine Cessna 195’s, a Globe Swift made ready for departure. Globe Swift Displays of new aircraft, engines and avionics dotted the landscape with thousands of folks meandering from one exhibit to the next. A delightful sensory overload with scheduled activities, speakers and events, about ten per hour, for most of the week.

Aeroshell square had some unique machines. The Airbus A380 was open for tours of the cabin.  The Erikson Skycrane looked anything but aerodynamic, but could carry 2,650 gallons of water. SkycraneThe Composite White Knight II sparkled nearby, built for passenger  suborbital space travel. While it looks like a two ship formation flying really close it’s one plane. It will hold Spaceship II under the middle wing along with lucky passengers who can afford the $200,000 ticket. (No word yet on coach fares) .White Knight II

Before long it was time for the daily airshow which featured the very best aerobatic pilots in the world. Sean Tucker, Patty Wagstaff; Mike Goulian, Kirby Chambliss. We watched the A380 rotate, 1.2 million pounds,  before it hit the 5,000 foot mark. It created a dust cloud on take off.A380 take offOther large aircraft thundered in including a C-17 Globemaster and C-5 Galaxy. There were two teams of wing walkers. I was especially impressed by the Kyle and Amanda Franklin, a husband /  wife team that staged a swordfight in midair. Teresas StokesI watched dumbfounded as the Chuck Aaron and the BO-105 Red Bull helicopter performed aerobatics. Who knew a helo could do loops and rolls?Aerobatic Helicopter

Orange County Choppers, Paul Teutul Sr. attemped to race Greg Poe’s MX-2  but knew he was outmatched from the beginning . He was lost in the airplanes smoke half way down the runway.Tuetel and Poe Although Teutul has star power, the real stars that stole the show were the warbirds. A flight of  T-6  and T-28 warbirds as well as P51’2 flying formation. They were joined by flights of L-39 and T-2 jets as well as bombers and other WWII aircraft.   Warbird Formation

Everyone knew this was something special.Rare planes were commonplace.  Even the most famous planes had to wait in line like everyone else. Lancaster in Line

Many predicted this year’s AirVenture attendance numbers would be way down. But those pessimistic prognosticators were wrong. Turnout far exceeded expectations hitting 578,000, a 12 percent increase over 2008.

Despite massive cutbacks in commercial, general and military aviation, this was a celebration of flying, an aviation Disneyland. It was the kind of thing that made us all a little more optimistic that investments were being made in new technology and the there was a bright future ahead for general aviation.20907257 Oshkosh Bill Tom & Rob

I can’t wait until Airventure 2010.

Photos by Tom Densmore
Thanks to Lex-a great video summary as well.

The Wright Stuff

Not to be confused with The Right Stuff.

Experimental Aircraft are still quite good. Technology evolves, standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before if you will. While Electric planes have limitations and the occasional dabbling of the mad scientist, they are positively space age when compared to these:

What would you least want to be around when it was fired up for the first time?  Flapping Wing Thing; Demon Combine, Bouncing Umbrella or Rocketman?

We’ve come a very long way.

What Izzit?


Came across this beast whilst picking through the boneyards at the Planes of Fame Musuem in Valle, AZ. Obviously a jet of some such but with wooden fuselage. America’s first jet fighter was  the aerocomet. It’s not close to that but it does have a round control stick like the British Fairey .

Click for larger image

Anyone know the Name of the Plane at the Planes of Fame?


Plane Pr0n

This is Lefty Gardner’s old P-38. Lefty was a legend in the Commemorative Air Force as one of its founding 5 members. Red Bull purchased the plane after an accident (turbo charger blew and caught fire causing an off-field landing) several years ago and has rebuilt it completely

Photo’s are of the Red Bull P-38 undergoing maintenance at Ezell Aviation in Breckenridge, TX.

Glacier Girl was an historic acheivement. This mirror finish “Lightning” is a work of art.