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-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.

Saturday Special: performance takeoffs!

Today I thought I’d share with you some videos of high-performance takeoffs. While I may wax poetic about the majesty of old warbirds, more modern fighter aircraft can do some jaw-dropping things.

For example, this Eurofighter was spotted making some max-performance takeoffs out of Prestwick in Scotland. This is so awesome that I practically needed to change my pants after I saw it.

Also noteworthy is this video of an F-22 pulling an impressively short and vertical takeoff.

I think I prefer the Eurofighter. Thoughts?

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: Airventure all year!


APOD: Airventure all year!

I think I may have enough photos from Airventure to post a new APOD almost every day until Airventure 2014 comes around. We shall see!

This beautiful P-51 Mustang was spotted in the Warbirds sector of Airventure 2013. I could have spent days in Warbirds alone, but with acres and acres of airplanes to ogle I found myself wandering to the tune of five or six miles a day…

If you’re an aviation enthusiast or a pilot and you have never been to Oshkosh you need to go. It’s indescribable: thousands and thousands of airplanes, each one with a story, each one a little unique in it’s own way, and thousands and thousands of aviation people to talk with. It’s like mecca for airplane geeks, and everybody who flies or like flying machines needs to get there at least once.

More photos to come! Watch this space. And as always, if you have a photo you’d like to submit, just drop me a line!

Positive Control

Being a pilot means being proactive, taking control. A reactive pilot probably has a shorter lifespan than a proactive pilot. My last flight had two moments that illustrated that for me.

Approaching Kankakee, their AWOS was reporting wind from 340 at 4. I made the standard radio calls and was lined up for downwind on 34 when I noticed a small low-wing waiting behind the hold short lines on runway 4.

Kankakee airport.

Kankakee (KIKK)

As you can see, the end of runway 34 crosses runway 4. In the event that I made a go-around or landed long at the same time as this guy was rolling for takeoff, we could experience a mid-air or on-ground collision. Is that likely? Not really, but it would be a very bad day if it happened. I made a change of plans.

“Kankakee traffic, Archer 175…I see someone on the hold short for runway four, so I’m going to go south of the field and circle around to a straight-in for runway four.”

A voice crackled over the unicom. “Oh…well, thanks a lot. We were going to wait for you but we can go now. That really cuts down our ground time, thanks a lot…Piper now taking runway four for departure to the north.”

A quick exchange of courtesies followed. I flew several miles south, then west, and made a three-mile final for runway four. It took maybe an extra three minutes on my part, but I felt a lot safer eliminating the variable of a departing aircraft on the crossing runway. As an added bonus the other pilot got out a lot quicker. It worked out really well. When I made my next radio call the other pilot thanked me again.

Could I have continued for 34? Absolutely. Would the other pilot have taken off? Probably not, but you never know. Accidents are usually a confluence of unlikely events, and the easiest way to prevent them is to break the first link in the chain. And it’s not like there have never been accidents where two airplanes collided at a runway intersection. With that in mind it seemed safer to take positive control of the situation and keep the other airplane where I could watch him.


Back at Schaumburg later in the day, there was a similar situation. I was preparing to enter the traffic pattern when two airplanes called for departure. A Mooney took off first, rocketing through the pattern and then out to the south. Easy to see, and no factor for me. The second was a Cessna. He claimed to be taking off, but I could not see him, and it was looking like we’d be on top of one another in the pattern. I slowed down and tried to figure out where he was.

Unable to find him, and knowing he’d just taken off, I didn’t want to enter the pattern and have the classic high wing / low wing conflict. I made a radio call and turned a 360 just south of the field to give him some space.

This is something I'd like to avoid.

This is something I’d like to avoid.

He called crosswind, so I followed, and then we both turned downwind. Neither of us could find the other. I was getting ready to break off the approach when the other pilot simply offered to let me go first. I gratefully accepted. The Cessna called me in sight when I turned base; I never saw him until after I landed.

A big part of flying is risk management. In my mind, good communication and positive control are both forms of risk management. If you’re not sure what someone else is doing or where they are, either find out or make plans to avoid them. Don’t just bumble along and hope it’ll work out. A lesson that works well for life AND for flying.

New flying video: Chicago sunset!

Well, a month or so after I flew it, I finally finished editing the video from my sunset flight over the Chicago skyline.

This version runs a little longer but has a ton of ATC/Comms and some nice views of the city, plus a photo of a B737 at sunset thrown into the mix.


Hope you enjoy! Some video from my recent flight to Kankakee, and a shorter version of the sunset flight will follow soon.

Aviation Photo of the Day: T-28 Formation

From the archives: A formation of T-28 Trojans shakes the earth as they rumble through the air at Sun n Fun!

Most T-28’s have a black stripe painted along the fuselage streaming toward the tail from the cowl. This isn’t just coincidence; in fact, the black stripe serves to camouflage the oil and exhaust gas stains that shoot back from the cowling. If you don’t paint it black, it’s going to turn black eventually anyway…

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!