One of my favorite things about any airshow is seeing warbirds fly.
From an historical perspective, warbirds honor the memory of veteran aviators and their ground crews who made US air power an unstoppable force. My grandfather flew a number of types in WWII, including the C-47, C-46, and B-26. He flew fuel and supplies to keep our troops moving during the Battle of the Bulge and he flew over The Hump to bring supplies to China. Seeing a C-47 and C-46 rumble into the sky at Oshkosh keeps me connected in a very visceral way to his memory. Honoring our veterans is a worthy thing to do.
From a mechanical perspective, it inspires awe in me to see that these machines still fly beautifully 60 and 70 years after their birth from the factory floor. The people who keep these machines flying labor long and hard out of a sense of love, not out of a desire for profit, and I for one appreciate their work.
I also appreciate the beautiful simplicity of these older aircraft. The P-51 is a relatively simple machine; keep the pistons banging and the controls rigged and she’ll fly fast and true. She is a machine. The F-35, on the other hand, is a computer with wings. She has something like 3 million lines of computer code that need to run for her to fly and for her pilot to see. The technology is cool but I wonder what effect it will have on longevity. I doubt if the durability of the warbirds will be matched by more modern, expensive and complex aircraft. I doubt you’ll see a lot of F-22’s or F-35’s flying in 2070, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a few DC-3’s left out there.
Finally, there are the aesthetics of warbirds. The lines, sounds, and smells of old airplanes are simply unbeatable. A T-6 screams “Get in and FLY me!” A P-51 in repose looks like it’s ready to roar into the skies with a moment’s notice. The smell of AvGas and engine oil, the thumping growling roar of a radial engine, the screaming whine of a Mustang…these things are beautiful to me. And if you’re reading this page, I suspect they’re beautiful to you too.
This blog is not officially affiliated with or sponsored by EAA or CAF. Opinions here are mine, not theirs.