Category Archives: vintage

Douglas World Cruiser

I first saw the Douglas World Cruiser when Hayman and I were were skulking around Boeing Field prior to an ISAP symposium.  The aircraft was being worked on by a restoration team  and we chatted to them for a while.  When I moved it up, it had moved too and now it lives at Renton.  I have seen it plenty of times as it sits in its open ended hangar at Renton.  However, it clearly is moved as, on a recent visit, the nose was pointing out of the hangar rather than in.  It is not in a great place to shoot but a bit of live view and holding the camera above the wall and you can get a shot.

Avro York

The Avro Lancaster is a very famous bomber from the Second World War but its transportation derivative is a lot less well known.  Outside the aviation community, it is probably totally unknown.  It is the Avro York (War of the Roses comments are welcome) and it takes the flying surfaces and power plants of the Lancaster and mates them to a larger fuselage for transporting people.  It was an important type in the latter stages of the war and immediately afterwards.  This example is in the main hangar at the IWM Duxford.

Hamilton H-47 Metalplane

This is not a great shot but it is a rare airplane.  I was out and about when I heard what sounded like a vintage aircraft engine rumbling nearby.  I took some long shots and only checked them out when I got home.  It turns out it is a Hamilton H-47 Metalplane.  This aircraft used to operate on floats – that would have been good to see – but it now is on wheels.  Apparently it lives someone in the area so I am going to try and track it down at some point.

Another Rapide!

I posted some shots of John Sessions’ Dragon Rapide in this post.  I was pleased to see another Rapide show up at Fairford for RIAT.  I managed to get a few shots of it.  It was painted in a nice color scheme and looked very elegant as it pottered by.  Not a speedy plane (despite the name) so plenty of time to enjoy it.

Farewell Nine-O-Nine

A text message from a relative let me know that the Collings Foundation’s B-17 had crashed in Connecticut.  Such a terrible shame for those who died or were injured and those associated with them.  The loss of an historic airframe is also very sad.  I have seen the Collings Foundation tour on a number of occasions are different locations including earlier this year.  I hope they will continue with the other aircraft because it brings so much joy to so many.  Here is a selection of my shots of Nine-O-Nine.

Collings Foundation at BFI

The Collings Foundation made its annual visit to the Seattle area recently including flights from Boeing Field.  The weather had been rather uninspiring but I figured I would head along and hope for some gaps in the clouds.  The Mustang and the P-40 didn’t fly while I was there.  The B-24 and the B-17 did though.  Sadly, the B-24 only flew once.  The discussion was whether Seattle being a Boeing town meant that everyone wanted to fly on the B-17, despite the rarity of the B-24.  The clouds had a habit of parting at just the wrong time and place with good light up the approach and down the runway but not where I wanted it to be.  Even so, it was still nice to see these vintage planes again.

Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender

Do you ever see an airframe and think to yourself “That isn’t a real aircraft.  It looks like something left over from a movie shoot.”  That was exactly what was in my mind when I visited the Air Zoo museum in Kalamazoo MI.  They have the sole remaining XP-55 Ascender.  It looks like something that was included in Raiders of the Lost Ark with its unusual configuration.  However, it is a genuine program that was part of US experimentation with unusual configurations in the hope of boosting performance.

A number of types were developed for this program but the arrival of the jets soon rendered the concept moot and they were cancelled.  This sole example found its way to Michigan where it is kept in great condition (at least it was years ago when I visited so I hope that is still the case).  It has a really cool look to it and, while that era is not my specialty, I am still pleased that you can come across some surprises from that period.

XF8U-1

I certainly won’t stand out from the crowd by claiming that I am a bit of a fan of the F-8 Crusader.  Plenty of people think it is a cracking jet.  I didn’t get to see many of them.  French Navy jets were still in service and, while the RF-8s were in use with the Navy at the beginning of my interest in aviation, I don’t think I ever saw in in service example.  Doesn’t stop me liking them though.  The Museum of Flight has the prototype jet in their collection.  Prior to the unification of the type identifiers between the services, it was known as the XF8U-1.

I first saw it while it was undergoing restoration at the museum’s facility at Paine Field.  My first visit there was when it was free.  You could just show up and wander around.  Now you have to pay to get in but it is still a good visit to make.  Restoration is when things are a lot less glamorous but you do see the work underway to makes things look great.

Now the jet has been moved to the main museum facility at Boeing Field.  It is polished to a fine finish and is complete with an air data boom.  The markings it carries appear to be authentic based on some original photos of the aircraft and, with its location close to the window, it does gleam nicely.  Oh to find someone with a lot of money and a desire to have one of these jets airworthy again.

Stuka Time

FHCAM opened up a new hangar at their museum facility in Everett.  To coincide with the new opening, they unveiled a new addition to the collection.  This addition was a Stuka.  They had hinted earlier in the week that it might be a Stuka and I was hoping that would be the case.  The other aircraft they were hinting at was the Me262 and, since we know they are close to flying their example of that, having a Stuka would be a significant addition.  I was really pleased to see that was the case although the 18-24 months until it is airworthy will be a bit of a drag.  Good things come to those that wait, though.

I put a fuller piece on GAR which you can see at the link below.  Here are a couple of shots of the current state of the airframe.

Warbirds – FHCAM Stuka Unveiling

Eastern Front Veteran

The FHCAM IL-2 Shturmovik has been airworthy for a while but I have previously only seen it on the ground.  Skyfair was my first opportunity to see it flying so I was rather pleased.  This is a pretty rare type and a new one for me so having it display was a treat.  The sun was rather high when it flew which is a bit less than ideal for a plane with a dark paint scheme but that is a small price to pay.  It flew a number of passes, all of which felt nice and close.  Great stuff.