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.
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.
The Lyon Air Museum has a B-17 as part of its collection. Named Fuddy Duddy, I was told by a docent that it is airworthy. I don’t know whether that means it is still flown or not and a quick search has not brought up any recent photos of it but maybe it is out and about at times. I walked around it in the hangar and got a few shots of it in amongst the rest of the museum collection. It looked to be in great condition but I have no idea what is beneath the skin.
The annual visit of the Collings Foundation to Livermore with their vintage warbirds is a popular event with many people turning out to look at the planes and, in some cases, fly in them. This year I didn’t plan on spending a lot of time there but I did head down for a while to check out how things were progressing. It was a hot day so the heat haze was playing havoc with shots as usual but there was still enough to see.
I had pondered what other spots might be useful for getting a shot or two and tried wandering down the street. However, the area is not pedestrian friendly so that idea didn’t progress too far. I did wrap up the day by driving to the public golf course at the end of the field to see whether I could get a different perspective on the departures. It wasn’t a bad spot but not somewhere I shall try again unless there is a good reason. You get a brief view and have to grab your shots before the planes are behind the trees.
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.
As mentioned in the previous post, the Collings Foundation were at Waukegan with their B-17, B-24 and P-51. Pete and I had headed up there to take a look at what was going on. This was the last day of the tour at Waukegan before they moved on to Palwauckee. They were supposed to be flying during the day and then departing in the early afternoon. Things were looking promising with the B-24 taking off while we were over at the Warbird Heritage Foundation hangar.
The P-51 was apparently being a little troublesome but was also scheduled to take someone on a ride while we were there. A friend of mine, Chris, volunteers for Collings and he was working with them that day so i took the chance to catch up with him. I give him regular abuse as he got a ride in P-51 Baby Duck once before when I was shooting it. I must be a lucky omen for him!
We needed to head back to Chicago for Pete to be ready for the return flight but the warbirds hadn’t yet departed. We decided to give them a few extra minutes. The B-17 had headed out first but the B-24 was obviously waiting to make sure the P-51 was away. Unfortunately, the engine was not looking too willing when it came to starting. Fortunately, a bit of ground power did the trick and they were away. As it turned out, Chris had made it in to the back of the P-51 so I got him in another one. I hope he recognizes my role in all of this!