The two B-25s that live on Paine Field are regular performers. When they both went up at Skyfair, I have to admit that I was not so excited. However, I was not anticipating a series of flypasts that were significantly better than I had seen from them before. They brought them in with a tight formation and some angles that allowed some great topside shots as they curved around on to the runway alignment.
Watching them line up, you could see that they weren’t going to come so close and ruin the photo opportunities. Instead, we got lots of banking and pulling with far better shots than I had achieved previously. I was not alone in appreciating the effort. Everyone around me was most impressed by the performance.
Grumpy got airborne using the Doolittle technique I posted about here. During the takeoff, there were some puffs of smoke from one of the engines. Initially I thought this might just be some oil blowing through but, as they climbed out, the output from the engine was clearly not as it should be and the one engine was clearly not healthy. They cut short the flight (although not as short as it could have been) and brought the plane back down. I saw Grumpy fly a few weeks later so I guess they dealt with whatever the issue was.
Paine Field held an open day which included some flying from the local aircraft. The Heritage Flight Museum had a number of the aircraft taking part including their B-25, Grumpy. On one of the takeoffs, they used a technique that was reminiscent of the Doolittle Raid. They applied power and full back controls to lift the nosewheel from the ground and roll down the runway in a wheelie. It was quite an interesting thing to see.
The Collins Foundation carry out a tour throughout the country with their vintage aircraft showing them off to many communities, sharing a message about what people did in the Second World War and providing an opportunity to ride in some historic machinery. I have seen them in the past while we lived in Chicago. Their tour this year brought them through the Bay Area with stops at Moffett Field and Livermore. Since the latter is close to home, I went along to see them.
The part of the collection that they bring on tour includes a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and a North American P-51 Mustang. I headed over to Livermore ahead of their planned arrival time and plenty of people had already gathered to see them come in. We all waited for a while and then the B-17 appeared over the hills. It made its approach and landed a short while before the B-24 showed up and followed suit. The P-51 was last of the three making a nice pass before landing. What I hadn’t anticipated was a B-25 Mitchell was also following them in. A quick turnaround and the three main players were soon launching off for flights with expectant passengers.
At this point I headed off as I had other things to do. Later in the day I came back and managed to catch an evening launch of the B-17. The following evening I had more free time so came back again. Another evening launch and recovery as the light got better and better. Then, as everyone packed up, the Collings team was kind enough to let me take some shots around the ramp. A local P-51 was parked up while the Collings P-51 had disappeared somewhere. As the sun set, I shot around the various aircraft and included a cracking 1937 Oldsmobile that one of the volunteers had brought along. With the light fading, the ramp lights came on which gave me a whole new bunch of opportunities to get some shots. I shot a lot until it was pretty late. At that point I headed home. The following day they also departed moving on to the next stop on their tour. If they come your way, make the effort to get out and see them. If you have the money, take a ride and support the continued operation of these great aircraft.
The field trip during the ISAP Symposium was held at Paine Field in Everett. We were hosted by the Heritage Flight Foundation and its owner John Sessions and they were excellent hosts. (I visited once before and you can see that post here.) Aside from the selection of aircraft still in the hangar where we were set up, they had arranged some photo sorties with some of their aircraft. The B-25, Grumpy, was the camera ship for a few photographers and the P-51 Mustang was the target. A T-6 also went up as a second camera ship. Each photo position was a paying ride with the T-6 obviously being the premium slot.
I had decided not to take the ride. It was not cheap although certainly not bad value for money. As the weather was not looking great, I wondered whether I had chosen wisely. As it was, the people who did go up did get some great images. The area certainly can provide some nice backdrops and the light, while flat, did not hurt things. However, even as someone on the ground, the flights seemed over very fast so I imagine for those on board, it was gone all to quickly.
For those of us on the ground, we got treated to the departure and arrivals of the aircraft plus a few passes of the P-51 and T-6 which were a lot of fun. Gloomy skies made it all a little flat looking but still a great sight. Being able to be close to the aircraft during the start up, taxi out and return was certainly worthwhile. The following day they were having a public event and I hope the weather improved for the large numbers they were expecting.