Let the Shows Begin!
What's hot on this summer's airshow circuit.
- By The Editors
- Air & Space magazine, May 2010
(Page 2 of 3)
Other hurdles included satisfying Federal Aviation Administration paperwork requirements so that Tiffany and his partner on the project, Jim Hammond, could register the autogiro and then apply for its airworthiness certificate; and finding someone qualified to fly it. To fly such an aircraft, a pilot must have a rotorcraft-gyroplane rating. Virginia resident Andrew King was willing to complete his instruction and check ride in Alabama.
King says that flying the PA-18 is “like being carried off by a prehistoric bird. There are these little tiny wings out there. When I turn, the shadow of the rotor blades is moving so slowly across the wing, you think: That can’t be holding this thing up either. It flies pretty well.”
-- Sparky Barnes Sargent
- Sun ’n Fun, Lakeland, Florida, April 13–18
On the Road Again
Middle America, this one’s for you: a traveling airshow that re-creates a time when an airplane landing near your town was the event of the summer, and townsfolk watched the horizon for the return of the barnstormers. This summer the American Barnstormers are flying 20 Golden Age charmers on a seven-city tour across the northern Great Plains. Love open-cockpit flying? On this third tour, the American Barnstormers will once again sell biplane rides in a Travel Air, New Standard, or Stearman.
- Mason City Airport, Mason City, Iowa June 17–19
- Marv Skie-Lincoln Airport, Tea, South Dakota June 20–22
- Watertown Regional Airport, Watertown, South Dakota June 23
- Aberdeen Regional Airport, Aberdeen, South Dakota June 24–26
- Bismarck Airport, Bismarck, North Dakota June 27–29
- Jamestown Regional Airport, Jamestown, North Dakota June 30–July 2
- Chandler Field Airport, Alexandria, Minnesota July 3–5
Bone Is the New Black
Boeing (Rockwell) B-1B Lancer
Rumor has it that the B-1 got its insider nickname, Bone, from a newspaper story that spelled out its designation as “B-One.” What is known for certain is that all the cool kids prefer Bone to the official Air Force name, “Lancer.” Designed as a long-range strategic nuclear bomber and declared operational in 1986, the variable-sweep B-1B was converted to a conventional bomber at the end of the cold war. With its wings swept, the Bone can reach 900 mph at sea level, but over most locales such fly-bys are forbidden because they cause sonic booms. But even when it’s just sitting on the ramp, the elegant matte-black B-1B is a real eyeful.
- Dyess Big Country Airfest, Dyess Air Force Base, Abilene, Texas, May 1 Static display and flybys
- SkyFest 2010, Fairchils Air Force Base, Spokane, Washington, July 24 and 25, Static display
Jumping Jet Flash
BAE Systems FA2 Sea Harrier
The prototype of the Harrier jump jet, the Hawker P.1127, debuted in 1960 in the United Kingdom, and the United States soon jumped in with both feet: By the early 1970s, the vertical-takeoff-and-landing Harrier was flying with the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps. (The Marine Corps always gets the divas: the Corsair, the Harrier, the Osprey.) McDonnell Douglas teamed with British Aerospace to produce the upgraded AV-8B Harrier II, which has been operating since 1985.
When some Harriers reached retirement age, a U.S. civilian decided he had to have his very own diva. The vertical-takeoff-and-landing Sea Harrier, a British naval version of the Hawker Siddeley
Harrier GR1, is best known for its performance in the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina. The Royal Navy retired the aircraft in 2006, whereupon Art Nalls, who had logged 1,800 hours in U.S. Marine Corps Harrier AV-8As and Bs, bought one through an aircraft broker working with the British Ministry of Defence. The 120-decibel (chainsaw-loud) jet made its civilian debut in October 2008, and flew six shows in 2009. Nalls told one of the airshows where he demonstrates the airplane that he needs money to help cover costs such as fuel—the airplane burns nearly two gallons per mile. “They gave me a set of Legos last year,” he says, “and it’s the thought that counts.”
Art Nalls and his Sea Harrier will appear at:
- Wings Over Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sept. 11
- Culpeper AirFest, Brandy Station, Virginia, Oct. 9
The Marine Corps demonstrates its AV-8B Harrier at the following shows:
- Florida International Airshow, Punta Gorda, April 10 & 11
- Central Texas Airshow, Temple, April 30–May 2
- Department of Defense Airshow, Andrews AFB, Maryland, May 15 & 16
- Salute to Veterans, Columbia, Missouri, May 29 & 30
- Golden West Regional Fly-in, Marysville/Olivehurst, California, June 11–13
- Battle Creek Airshow, Michigan, July 1–4
- Gary Airshow, Indiana, July 10 & 11
- Arctic Thunder, Anchorage, Alaska, July 31 & Aug. 1
- Oregon International Airshow, Hillsboro, Aug. 20–22
- Atlantic City Airshow, New Jersey, Aug. 25
- New York City Airshow, Brooklyn, Aug. 28 & 29
- Little Rock Air Force Base Airshow, Arkansas, Oct. 9 & 10
Happy 75th Birthday
Douglas DC-3, Boeing B-17
For U.S. aviation, 1935 was a very good year. It was the year that C.R. Smith, the new president of up-and-coming American Airlines, got an edge on his competition. Hoping to win customers by offering more comfort on long coast-to-coast trips, Smith asked Donald Douglas to design a modern “sleeper,” so passengers could spend part of the journey tucked into Pullman car-type berths. Douglas answered, reluctantly, with the Douglas Sleeper Transport, which, in its daytime configuration, was the 21-passenger DC-3 (“DC” for Douglas Commercial). Its first flight was December 17, 1935, the anniversary of the first flight, and six years later, 80 percent of the airliners flying in the United States were DC-3s. It was the first airliner that made money for its operators from passenger fares alone, independent of mail contracts. Airplane fans have loved it from the beginning.
Also in 1935, just five months before the DC-3 made commercial aviation profitable, Boeing Aircraft Company launched the B-17, the aircraft that would determine the course of U.S. military aviation. The country’s first operational four-engine bomber took off from Seattle’s Boeing Field on July 28, 1935; more than 12,700 (some built by Douglas and Lockheed) would follow. A Seattle Times reporter coined the name “Flying Fortress,” but he could not have foreseen how vulnerable the bomber crews would be to anti-aircraft guns and enemy fighters in World War II. As wave after wave of B-17s—some formations more than 200-strong—began to pound German industrial centers in 1943, losses were so heavy that missions were curtailed. (Once the P-51 Mustang fighter began escorting the bombers, their chances of survival improved.) The drama of those missions and the B-17’s good looks made it a media darling, and today a dozen U.S. organizations fly restored B-17s as symbols of sacrifice and triumph.
This July, at the 2010 Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the DC-3 and B-17 will get together to celebrate their 75th birthdays. Some 25 DC-3s will fly in, and the EAA expects several B-17s to show up.
These organizations fly B-17s; some sell flights and post tour schedules on their Web sites:
- 1941 Historic Aircraft Museum, Geneseo, New York
- Collings Foundation, Stow, Massachusetts
- Commemorative Air Force, Midland, Texas
- Commemorative Air Force, Mesa, Arizona
- Evergreen Aviation Museum, McMinnville, Oregon (this year: only static display)
- Experimental Aircraft Association, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
- Liberty Foundation, Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston, Texas
- Lyon Air Museum, Santa Ana, California
- Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs, California
- Vintage Flying Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
- Yankee Air Museum, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Paris + Jet =Trés Magnifique