Back when we lived in Chicago, I went to Kenosha to photograph the Grumman Wildcat that had recently been lifted from Lake Michigan. While I was there, I also got to have a look around the hangar which housed the collection of Chuck Greenhill. His airworthy planes were stored in the hangar but it was also busy working on restorations of some Grumman amphibians.
His Duck was in the hangar and it was a great looking example. I was disappointed that I never got to see it fly. It looked immaculate. I understand it has been sold and is now in Texas. There were also two Mustangs parked in there. One of them, Geraldine, they claimed to be the most authentic Mustang example in the world. I don’t know how you would measure such things but they seemed very confident claiming this. It even included a full, working armament so you could head up and shoot someone down if you were so inclined.
The amphibian restorations were very interesting. Bare metal fuselages and the wings off while they were in work. It would have been good to make regular visits to see how things progressed but I was not able to go back again so couldn’t do that. Even so, pretty cool to see the workmanship on these airframes.
Aviation museums tend to be full of airframes of various types but sometimes they have associated items that they work on. The Museum of Flight restoration facility at Paine Field has a fire truck that they have rebuilt. It is tiny compared to current fire trucks but it is a great example of a truck from a time long gone and it is in great shape after all of the work put in to it. I thought I would share it here since it probably won’t get a lot of attention from everyone other than those that worked on it.
The Comet may have been the first British jet airliner and the first in commercial service but it is not too well served by Museums. I guess the stragglers got chopped up when they had served their purpose. Everett is home to a Comet 4 though with the Museum of Flight’s restoration facility being home to one. Progress on it has been slow but steady. I have seen it a few times over the years. You used to be able to walk outside and see the bits stuck outdoors but now there is commercial service at Paine Field, the ramp is a bit more secure.
On my most recent visit, I wandered through the cabin and had a look in the cockpit. The cockpit did result in some HDR shots and I wrote a post about that here that discussed the different results Adobe software provides for HDR. These shots just give you an idea of what the early days of jet aviation brought to the flying public.
An online discussion I was involved in recently revolved around supersonic transports. While the TU-144 and Concorde were the main focus, the Boeing 2707 also came up. I had seen the front fuselage mockup of this when it was at the Hiller Museum in San Carlos. I realized I didn’t have any good photos of it and was a touch annoyed. Looking up the story of the mockup, I found it was now at the Museum of Flight Restoration Facility at Paine Field.
I hadn’t visited the facility since moving up here so figured a visit was in order. The mockup is easily accessible in the main part of the hangar. However, it is rather big and so only fits in with the nose section removed. I had a chat with the docent and he advised that it was unlikely to be moved to the main museum building given the amount of space it takes up. I assume it will stay where it is for the foreseeable future. The rest of the mockup was destroyed long ago so it is great that this piece has survived as a relic of a long gone program.
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.
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.
Sleeping through an event is not clever but I have an excuse. I had guests! The Museum of Flight has a Boeing B-52G Stratofortress that has long been stored outside up at Paine Field. Recently, the airframe has been repainted in preparation for its move to the museum location where it will go on display. The following shots show it in its painted state and then in the disassembly process ahead of the move. Some of the components were already at the museum when I last visited including the engine nacelles.
The plan was to move it down overnight during the weekend. I had intended to track the movement and get some shots of the plane out on the streets. Unfortunately, while Mum was staying with me, I sort of forgot that was my plan and woke up on the Sunday morning that it arrived and realized I had missed the whole thing. Doh!
A long time ago, I was part of an ISAP symposium held in Dallas. During the field trip day, we went to a number of locations, all of which were very interesting. One of them was the restoration facility at what was then the Vought factory, now Triumph I think. This was run by volunteers that had retired from the plant and was working on a number of projects including painting an F4U while we were there. Another project that was a work in progress was the Flying Pancake. At the time is was skinless and in a rotating frame to allow everyone to work on it more conveniently.
Roll forward to now and I was at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field. The museum is the home of the finished restoration. The aircraft looks fantastic. The restoration team did a great job. To see it completed including the huge propellers is something special. Fortunately, there is a mezzanine level above the plane so it is possible to see it from a number of angles. Great job everyone involved.
The Isle of Wight may be a pretty small island but it has had a number of significant aerospace projects over the years. One of the most successful is the Britten Norman Islander. A twin piston aircraft, the Islander has been in production for decades and provides passenger and freight service all around the world. Developed and produced for many years in Bembridge, the history of the Islander is important to a lot of the local residents.
A group of them got together to recover and preserve the third Islander ever built. G-AVCN (or Charlie November) was the first production aircraft following on from the two prototypes, neither of which is still in existence. It was recovered in pieces from the Caribbean and returned to Bembridge for restoration. I worked with the project leader on a feature for GAR that can be read here.
My mum is involved in the project so she took me down to the restoration facility to take a look at the airframe as it currently looks. The fuselage is pretty much completed. Now the focus is on the restoration of the wing. They are also looking for the final location where the aircraft will be put on display. It is painted in the colors of Aurigny – an airline that has flown many Islander and Trislander aircraft over the years including Charlie November. Things were a little cramped for photography where the plane is at the moment but it was cool to check out a significant part of the Island’s aviation history.
The number of cars on display at Dream Machines was amazing. Vehicles of all sorts were there. Some were in immaculate condition and other looked like they probably hadn’t had any work done on them since they were built other than what was necessary to keep them running. The variety was what was cool. There were old police vehicles, sports cars, luxury cars, off roaders, heavily modified vehicles and even a jet powered truck. Vintage racing cars were alongside old Fiats and VW camper vans. They were all there it seemed. I am not going to pick out any special ones for mention. Instead, here are a load of pictures of what was there.