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 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-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.

The Prettiest Mooney In The World

I happen to like wild color schemes on airplanes. I think that an airplane should be something bright and vibrant, not something dull and corporate.

When you take a vibrant color scheme and put it onto something as naturally beautiful as a Mooney, you’ve got art that flies. Clean lines, good aerodynamics, bright colors…I try to appreciate airplanes not just as an efficient means of transportation, but as a manifestation of the intellectual challenges of engineering and as works of mechanical art.

With all that in mind, I happen to think this is the prettiest Mooney in the world. Maybe you’ve seen one that’s nicer, and if you have please share, but this…this caught my eye. If I had a little more disposable income I suspect it would have caught my wallet, too. Love at first sight…



APOD: B-25 Landing


MitchellLandingKeeping with the B-25 for today, here’s a photo I took of a B-25 touching down on Runway 36L at KOSH this year during Oshkosh.

Every year when I see these old birds fly, I try to take a little extra time to appreciate them. Keeping an airplane like this flying is a labor of love by the entire crew, from mechanics to pilots to the people who raise money to keep them flying. And as much as I’d like to see them aloft indefinitely, there may come a day when many of these machines end up mothballed for one reason or another, confined to hangars or museums instead of roaring into the sky. Such thoughts are tragic, and I try to keep them at bay, but there is a nagging doubt in my mind that these birds won’t fly forever.

That being said, they fly now. And keeping them flying, both for the sheer love of aviation and out of respect for their historical significance, is a worthy goal. Next time you’re at an airshow, or at an aviation museum, donate a few bucks to keep these birds flying. Better yet, join your local EAA or CAF chapter and donate your time to one of these precious birds.

APOD: Snarling B-25


APOD: Snarling B-25

From the Oshkosh archives: a B-25J Mitchell bomber bristles with machine guns and snarls out at the crowd. The B-25 was primarily designed to drop bombs, but as the war went on it became clear that the Mitchell could handily be used as a ground-attack aircraft. As such, the B-25 was gradually modified to include prodigious quantities of forward-facing machine guns to facilitate strafing runs.

A beautiful machine with a deadly purpose. The classic dichotomy of the warbird: beauty and death rolled together into one striking machine.

B-17 Taxis In


Since we’re sharing B-17 photos this week, here’s one of Aluminum Overcast taxiing in after a beautiful landing at Oshkosh. They generally shut down the two inboard engines for taxi, I assume to conserve fuel and save engine time. With Avgas at $6 or so a gallon, who can blame them? I wish I could shut down my one and only engine for taxi…it would save me a few bucks.

Do any of you readers have a B-17 photo you’d like to share here? Let me know!

APOD: Not so Heavy Metal


Not so heavy metal...

Not so heavy metal…

A lot of the attention-grabbers at Oshkosh are heavy metal: old military hardware, bought and lovingly restored, making loud and fast high-visibility passes at airshow center. But there are two ends to every spectrum, and with that in mind I took a walk one evening out to the Ultralight Barn.

The Ultralight Barn is exactly what it says it is: a barn full of ultralight-related merchandise. It sits next to a small grass strip surrounded by ultralight aircraft dealers and supply vendors. If you arrive early in the day or late in the evening you will be treated to the spectacle of dozens of little ultralight airplanes taking to their wings. Rather than the coarse grumbling roar of radial engines you’ll hear the nasal drone of VW and Rotax engines buzzing as people get aloft in these marvelous flying machines.

Some ultralights look like full-fledged airplanes. Others, such as this one, are basically a skeletal airframe with fabric wings and a lawn chair. Some of them appear to be pull-started, like your lawn mower. They’re whimsical, almost like children’s toys, but make no mistake: just like any other flying machine, you have to know what you’re doing to fly one.

Ultralight flying looks more like no-cockpit flying than open-cockpit flying. There’s probably some basic instrumentation, and I bet some of them have radios, but I bet they’re tuned to the local rock station. I’ve never been up in one, but I can say that ultralight flying looks like a rollicking good time to me. One of these days I’ll have to try it out!


Flying in a Police State

Via James Fallows at The Atlantic comes this extremely disturbing tale of a pilot, David Blackburn of San Diego, whose fourth-amendment rights were egregiously violated by federal authorities. A quote from the article:

I asked him who all these people were and he informed me that he had three agencies investigating me  and they were Homeland Security, The FBI, and DEA.  Each team had their own dogs that would be going through the aircraft and that they would be as careful as they could.  I  gave permission for him to search the aircraft.

That is when he brought out 3 dogs and what appeared to be 3 separate teams of two people with each dog.  One team went in at a time and after they were done they came over to ask me questions.

At some point I was taken behind one of the vans and asked questions.  I asked to be in front of the vans as I wanted to see what if anything was going into the aircraft and they said no they wanted me right where I was.  They asked about other passengers, Mexico, drugs and money each time.  They would not allow me to make any calls and this went on till the wee hours in the morning for at least 4 hours.

At this point I was shaking in my boots.  I was absolutely concerned they were going to plant something in my aircraft.  After they completed their questioning over and over again they finally  instructed me to move my aircraft to a different parking  area and that the security would escort me off the airport and that they were done.

Deeply disturbing. Part of being American is being free to travel unmolested across state lines, and being free from the threat of unreasonable search and seizure. More disturbing is Mr Blackburn’s suspicion that his phone is tapped, as this incident arose after a cell phone conversation he had with a friend.

This sort of behavior by the federal government is un-American; it is something I would expect of the USSR, or some insane South American dictatorship. I urge all of you, pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike, to write your congressman and demand to know why federal agents are detaining and searching pilots.

From the Sun n Fun: Piaggio Royal Gull

From my friend Julie at the Sun n Fun, enjoy this picture of a Piaggio P.136 Royal Gull!

Piaggio Royal Gull

Piaggio Royal Gull

Built by the Italian firm Piaggio (who are still making a sexy twin-pusher) in the late 1940’s for maritime patrol and rescue missions, the Royal Gull is a rare sight to see. Wikipedia claims that 63 were built; I can’t corroborate that anywhere else at the moment, but that seems plausible…

I have only ever seen one Royal Gull myself, at Oshkosh 2012; I wonder if this is the same P.136 at Sun n Fun.

Thanks to Julie V. for the photo!

If you have a photo from Sun n Fun you’d like to share, let me know! Drop by my facebook page, tweet @airplanology, or email airplanology at gmail dot com!