Let the Shows Begin!

What’s hot on this summer’s airshow circuit.

At Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Hugh Schoelzel channels Louis Blériot in the nation’s oldest flying aircraft. (Gilles Auliard)
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(Continued from page 4)

  • 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

It doesn’t hover or breathe fire or autorotate, but when it debuted in the 1950s, the world’s first Very Light Jet was very far ahead of its time. The Morane Saulnier Paris MS760 was designed as a jet trainer to meet a French military contract, but it lost the competition. Beech Aircraft bought a few and demonstrated them as business jets Stateside, but the Learjet soon eclipsed the Frenchie. Late last year a U.S. entrepreneur announced plans to update 32 Paris jets and sell them for about $550,000 per (training included). A two-ship precision-flight team, led by former F-14 demo pilot extraordinaire Dale Snodgrass, is flying the circuit this summer.

  • Sun ’n Fun, Lakeland, Florida, April 13–18
  • Air Lauderdale Beach Fest, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, April 24 & 25
  • Sun Fun Festival Airshow, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, May 28 & 29
  • Borden Canadian Forces Day, Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ontario, June 5 & 6
  • Rhode Island National Guard Open House, North Kingston, June 26 & 27
  • EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 26–Aug. 1
  • Atlantic City Airshow, New Jersey, Aug. 25
  • Boston-Portsmouth Air Show at Pease, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Aug. 28 & 29
  • Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Sept. 18 & 19
  • National Business Aviation Association Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, Oct. 19–21
  • Wings Over Homestead, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, Nov. 6 & 7

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