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.
If you are used to a modern shape of an anchor, particularly one for a large ship, the old style of anchors in the days of the early 1800s will be rather strange looking. They look like a giant version of the sort of anchor you would see on a small boat. This example sits on the seafront in Southsea and comes from a ship that fought in the battle of Trafalgar. It seems in pretty good shape. I wonder whether that is a feature of the materials used or the result of lots of bits of it being replaced over the years.
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.
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.
During the Italian car day at Exotics@RTC, all of the focus was on the selection of cars inside the mall area. I did take some time to wander out in to the parking lot to see what other cars had shown up that day and hadn’t been “worthy” of a spot inside. As I was strolling around, something unusual showed up. I had no idea what it was but it was clearly pretty old. As it pulled to a halt, we got a chance to take a look around.
It was an Alfa Romeo C6. I asked the guy driving it why he was outside when this would clearly have been something that would have got a prime spot. He wasn’t bothered about all of that sort of thing and was happy to roll up when he wanted and to have those outside check the car out. The restoration had been undertaken in the UK and I imagine it hadn’t been cheap judging by the condition of the vehicle. It had that swoops look that cars of its era sometimes had and was a fantastic looking machine. If I had gone out earlier in my visit, I would have missed it completely!
My wife is a star – well that, or she is a masochist. Our trip to the UK was in three phases. We spend the first phase visiting family. The second phase was my visit to RIAT for a few days while she did things in London and around the south coast. The last phase was our time to tour around East Anglia and relax a little. Our last full day had us up near Cambridge. She suggested I might want to visit the Imperial War Museum aviation collection at Duxford. Since I had taken a chunk of the vacation to do aviation things, I was not going to push anything aviation related for the rest of the trip but she was quite happy to do this. What a star!
I haven’t been to Duxford for ages so I was interested to see how things had changed. What was once called the Superhangar had been rebuilt and had lots of interesting stuff inside. The American Forces section was there last time I went and hadn’t changed a lot. Some of the large airliner stuff outside was familiar but other bits were either new or something I didn’t recall from previous visits. It is a very extensive collection and well worth a visit. I was really pleased to check it out.
Some visits to an airport can be a total loss. Nothing of interest happens and you come away with no shots worthy of note. On other occasions, you get a surfeit of riches. I had one such evening at Paine Field. It included a sortie by FHCAM’s Bf-109. I saw it taxiing out which looked good and then found myself being joined on the mound by Steve Hinton. Steve’s son, Stevo, was being checked out in the 109 that evening. He took of a flew a little general handling before returning for a few patterns. The 109 is a great looking plane, particularly with the right engine installed. Having someone like Steve alongside to discuss what was going on was icing on the cake.
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.
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.
The Planes of Fame museum at Chino is a fantastic place to visit for any aviation enthusiast. Many hangars are open and they are filled with all sorts of interesting aircraft, restored either to static or flying condition. However, they are not all that is there. There is a backlot in which other aircraft are stored awaiting either their own restoration or for them to provide parts for the restoration of something else. Some great looking vintage aircraft here including jets that it would be so good to see back in the air. I decided to dedicate this post to some shots of these less glamorous residents.