...Before rolling into the restoration shop at Duxford. During the complete restoration, they stripped her of her paint and guns, with the goal of highlighting the beauty in the design. The elliptical wing, the thin fuselage, the gorgeous curves...and removing the lethal element further pushes the timeless aura about this aircraft.
Before we knew it, it was time to take a breath, sit back and appreciate what had just happened; the first simultaneous night engine run-up with the only Mustang-Corsair formation flying team. Cooling off, the engines were ticking quietly after the roar of internal combustion fell silent, and I'm sure a few of our camera shutters were smoldering too.
It’s stories like these and those of the remaining veterans of WWII that are important to capture and remember and ensure the younger generations are told. The remainder of those veterans won’t be around for much longer and so to see them with their families and the children of today at Daks Over Duxford was very special. There were school trips in attendance which was great to see and children there in school time but with their parents. What better way to take a day off school!
It really depends on how much I’ve been able to fly and how proficient I’m feeling on that particular run. If it’s been a while I’ll usually take it easy until I get back into the groove. Also have to take into consideration what’s on the jet. If there’s an ARS pod it’s easy to exceed the speed limits, and if the jet is slick it’s easy to break the number lighting the burners.
Yeah. It's really good. And you know, I've only been in the program for short time...about three years, which is really nothing compared to some of the leadership back on base who have been in it for eight or ten years... and I think even for them, they're taking a lot of [joy from the feedback] but the pride factor of the airplane lies generally in the non-airshow stuff...what we show at airshows is super cool and impressive, but it's the tip of the iceberg of what makes the plane cool.
As I stood there, I remembered my brother wanting to fly helicopters for the Army and in front of me were a collection of past Army helicopter pilots and some Army helicopters. I always have a set of my brothers dog tags with me and today was no different. I had thought for a while now that it might be cool to get the tags flown in a old warbird, like a Mustang or something. But this was better, this was perfect.
Even more rare is hanging out on an airfield through sunset and blue hour. The night before the 2019 Leaseweb Manassas Airshow, James and I got to do just that on the Manassas Regional Airport ramp, with our friends RJ Gritter and Chef Pitts. RJ Gritter flies a red, white and blue Bellanca Decathlon, and Chef (Clemens Kuhlig) flies a Pitts S1S in an iconic red and black scheme.
The real clincher for me in the revival of aviation in South Wales, was an aviation museum celebrating not just the UK’s aviation heritage, but that of South Wales itself. It was the one thing that I always felt was missing when I was growing up aviation wise, with the nearest aviation related museum being in Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, over two and a half hours drive away. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned on a local facebook group that there was to be an aviation museum opening at RAF St Athan.
…..it's the crew, it's the pilots, it's the maintainers, it's being around the quality of the individuals that are part of this program, and I'm talking about the active duty and the civilian Heritage Flight pilots themselves, as people, they're just lights out. I work in a very different environment, and for 72 hours, when I get to wear a patch and be a part of this program...being around the people is awesome. It means a lot.
Having been fortunate enough to fulfill a lifelong ambition of traveling over to the Southwest of the USA for some of the best spots on Earth for aviation photography; this trip certainly didn’t disappoint. Over two weeks, a small group of fellow aviation photographers and I traveled more than 3,500 miles covering California, Nevada and Arizona, traveling through huge cities as well as some of the smallest and most isolated villages.
After a few orbits over the North Sea constantly scanning the surrounding airspace, my eyes caught four tiny specs in the distance and approaching fast towards to the tanker. As they became more visible it was clear that they were F-16 aircraft with conformal fuel tanks, confirming our suspicions of the only F-16s with conformal tanks; the Polish Air Force.
I looked out the windshield and noticed a thousand droplets obscuring my view. Whooomp!! The sound of the wiper blades woke me from my momentary day dream. With a clear windshield, I saw a uniquely painted Cessna T-37C Gate Guard. This plane on a stick still seemed to want to soar high. Feet from the aging “Tweety Bird” was a small narrow access road. On one side of the road was a barn and the other a chapel. As I passed the church and barn, the claustrophobic feeling dissipated when the road opened up into a parking lot. I had arrived at Base Aérea N. 1 da Força Aérea Portuguesa or Air Base 1 of the Portuguese Air Force, BA1 for short. As you can tell, I am not in Kansas. Before I go any further, it is important to point out that my name is Richard, not Ricardo and the Portuguese Air Force is called Força Aérea Portuguesa or F.A.P. Some things shouldn’t be translated.
As we taxied down to the end of the runway, Job received a message saying that we were the lead element in a 4-ship flight consisting of the FM-2, T-6, and T-34. As we held short of the runway, I secured the door while Mark ran up the engines before takeoff. The back of the airplane bounced around with the trees behind us, frantically waving from the prop wash. The rumble from the R-2800’s reverberated through my chest as I wondered how much the brakes would hold.
Living less than twenty miles away, I grew up in this place. I watched the museum’s collection grow as I grew, going from two hangars, to three, then four. Meeting Roger was exciting, as he could provide me with all kinds of new information about the collection. As we talked, I was overwhelmed with questions, but had so little time to ask them. My wife finally had to pull me away from Roger, almost physically, or we may have never left the museum that day. This brief meeting was just the beginning of a new friendship with him and his family.
Nearing 40 years of sterling service and involved in every major conflict since Desert Storm/Operation Granby in 1991, the Tornado is now entering the final days of its life in RAF service. Recently, numbers 31 and 9 squadron RAF gave a spectacular send off to the remaining Mighty Fins at their home base RAF Marham, Norfolk, England.