CorsairFest- page 3 | Military Aviation | Air & Space Magazine

CorsairFest

There's a lot more to the F4U than its past association with black sheep.

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Holden was in attendance, and his comments echoed those of every pilot lucky enough to fly a Corsair. "If anyone were to ask me to name the finest [American] fighter during World War II-unequivocally-the Corsair. I've never flown a P-51, and I'm sure some of those boys would give you some argument. But the Corsair could be a fierce fighter and a loyal companion at the same time, and the Corsair never, even under difficult circumstances-like flying with an oil pressure gauge that read zero-did it let me down."

Late in the day, as the airshow was winding down, the public was shooed from the row of parked Corsairs, and the pilots gathered for a quick briefing before mounting up. Soon, word came from ground operations director Arlene Samuelson, and one by one the ground crew signalled "Start engine." The massive propeller blades initially struggled to turn but soon spun into a blur, blowing a curl of smoke away from big blue cowlings, and the Corsairs taxied out in staggered order to match the planned takeoff sequence. One by one, they took off from the east end of the airport, tails floating up as they gained speed. They retracted the gear, gathered more speed even as they climbed, and entered their element. Then each one returned to beat up the airfield in a round-robin lazy trail formation.

There were five Corsairs flying together on that day, the most just about anyone could remember seeing at one time since Korea. Four of them finally formed up in a classic finger four, and, from stage left, made a pass over the runway. The announcer was silent, letting everyone appreciate the sight and the sound. Passing by in steady formation, they were soon lost in the sun. There was nothing to do, really, but try to memorize it all.

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