Ghosts of Sun n Fun Past

The Sun n Fun fly-in and aviation expo extraordinaire is happening NOW in sunny Lakeland, Florida!

I had had high hopes of attending this year’s Sun n Fun festivities. Alas, I am not there to partake. Things here at Airplanology HQ have been fairly hectic of late. But with any luck I’ll be at Sun n Fun 2015…

Since I can’t be there this year, I will re-live years past through photographs. Enjoy a few raw pics from the ghosts of Sun n Fun past.

F4U Corsair, SnF 2008

F4U Corsair, SnF 2008

Flagship Detroit, SnF 2009

Flagship Detroit, SnF 2009

Consolidated B-24 Liberator Ol' 927

Consolidated B-24 Liberator Ol’ 927

Ol' 927 airborne

Ol’ 927 airborne

 

F-22 Raptor

F-22 Raptor, SnF 2011

 

APOD: T-28’s at Temora

Today’s APOD comes courtesy of Mr. David Foxx, editor of Airscape Magazine.

This is a line up of T-28s facing the dawn for the recent Warbirds Downunder Show at Temora Aviation Museum, November 2nd, 2013. The sound when they all started up was bowel-loosening!
What a fantastic weekend it was! We camped on the airport with a couple of thousand other absolute aviation geeks – and I swear I could still smell avgas in my nostrils the day after I got home. Temora itself is a friendly little town in country New South Wales, Australia, that’s population trebles during the show. They take it all in their stride, with a welcome smile for all comers.
The Trojans are (from closest to farthest):
• T-28D “Mekong Moon” – registered VH-ZUK, cn 174-374, first assigned #51-7521
• T-28D “Just Dreamin’” – registered VH-ZUC, cn 174-429, first assigned #51-7576
• T-28B “Miss Stress” – registered VH-ZSH, cn 200-106
• T-28A “Littl Juggs” – registered VH-VBT, cn 171-27, first assigned #50-0221
• T-28D “DP-232” – registered VH-DPT, cn 200-303, first assigned #55-138232
YTEM T-28's; photo courtesy David Foxx.

YTEM T-28’s; photo courtesy David Foxx.

Truly the T-28’s are thunderous machines. I can feel my whole body rumble when they fire those massive radials up…thanks to Mr. Foxx for the submission, and be sure to check out Airscape Magazine, which is available through a lovely app on iOS and Android devices.

 

Do you have a photo to submit for APOD? Shoot me an email to airplanology@gmail.com with your photo and how you’d like to be credited!

APOD: T-28 Burst

Formation flying never ceases to impress me. To fly an aircraft takes concentration; to fly an aircraft at speed in close formation with many other airplanes requires intense focus and dedicated training. Every formation routine is practiced before a show, and every flight is debriefed after landing to analyze what went right and what could have been better.

Some GA pilots occasionally fly loose formation. I’m a cautious flyer and would prefer to receive formation training before forming up with another aircraft.

Anyway, today’s APOD comes from Oshkosh 2013. It’s a formation of T-28 Trojans, some of the most impressively loud airplanes I’ve ever seen. The photo was taken right as the formation flew a bomb burst, so each pilot is breaking off in a different direction. Fun to watch and it makes good pictures, too. Next time I’m at an airshow I’ll have my improved camera and lens for better effect.

T-28burst

T-28 bomb burst

 

APOD: T-6 in repose

Today’s APOD, as so many do, comes from the Oshkosh archives. This beautiful white T-6 sat parked where God intended, in a green grassy field under sunny blue skies surrounded by kin. When they can’t be airborne, these machines should at least be treated to the feeling of grass under their wheels now and again.

T6 as God intended.

T6 as God intended.

Potentially, a T-6 could be within my reach someday. I’m a fellow of modest means, and likely to stay that way. But if I played my cards right there’s a non-zero chance I could obtain one of these machines. The market for used T-6’s seems to bottom out around $150,000, which is a pretty humongous chunk of change but is potentially manageable (and worth every damn penny I’d bet.)

Whether or not I could afford to fly it and maintain it…well, that’s a whole different story. But a man can dream. And on my budget, that’s more or less all I can do for now.

SR-71 Video Roundup

One of the most astounding airplanes ever built has to be the Lockheed Martin A-12 Oxcart -slash- SR-71. Put together by the secretive Skunk Works at Lockheed back in the late 1950s, the SR-71 flew higher, faster, and further than any other aircraft ever built, and did it with remarkable stealth. While certainly not as stealthy as later aircraft (e.g. the F117) the SR-71 did have a remarkably small radar cross-section for such a large aircraft.

By Judson Brohmer/USAF [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Judson Brohmer/USAF [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, when you fly at three times the speed of sound at 80,000-feet plus, nothing is going to catch you anyway. The SR-71 never suffered any combat losses despite numerous attempts by the Soviets and others to bring one down with SAM-2’s or MiGs.

One of the most amazing things about the Blackbird was that it was all designed without the aid of modern computing. It was built in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and designed using slide rules and pencils to do the immensely complex design and engineering work required to make a mach 3 spy plane.

In the era of the Blackbird, and especially in Kelly Johnson’s Skunk Works, engineers were left alone to make the airplane with minimal supervision. Nowadays a project like the SR-71 would be mired in red tape and bureaucracy and essentially managed to death; the F-35 is a perfect example of how a plane that is engineered well can be thoroughly neutered by bureaucracy and management. Management, especially in aerospace, is the black death of our times. But I digress.

Sadly for me, the Blackbird was retired before I ever got to see one fly. I have no original Blackbird photos and many of the videos I can find are of VHS-quality. Nevertheless, here are a few for you to enjoy. If you have any better Blackbird photos or videos I would love to see them and share them here!

Ode to the F-111

I’m no Keats or Wadsworth but here’s a brief ode to the wonderful and under appreciated F-111 Aardvark. Enjoy!

Behind sweeping wings Pratt & Whitneys churn

The Aardvark sits ready to fly

With a thumping roar we dump and burn

And scream into the sky

Whether flying high with ECM or low with heavy munitions

The Aardvark rends the sky and leaves sound behind

Mach numbers breaking the needle at 2.5

The Engineers behind this beast are mathematic magicians

A beautiful machine from well-trained minds

When you’re flying in an Aardvark you know that you’re alive.

APOD: A-26 Invader

A rare bird from my archives: a Douglas A-26 Invader spotted way back at a Sun n Fun past. The A-26 proved to be a worthy steed, capable of carrying more munitions further and faster than was expected.

A-26 Invader.

A-26 Invader.

My grandfather had time in the A-26’s cousin, the Martin B-26 Marauder. The Marauder is unrelated to the A-26, though confusingly enough the A-26 was redesignated as the B-26 in the late 40’s.

APOD: T-6 Takeoff

DSCF3069

Two T-6 Texans take to the sky at Oshkosh 2013.

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.

Keep ’em flying! Consider donating to EAA or the CAF to keep these birds in the air!

This blog is not officially affiliated with or sponsored by EAA or CAF. Opinions here are mine, not theirs.