Tag Archives: Warbird Heritage Foundation

WHF Day Out

wpid7411-C59F2218-Edit.jpgWhat seems like far too long a time had passed since I had last had a chance to head up to Waukegan to see the team at the Warbird Heritage Foundation.  A nice day and a break in my schedule meant that I was finally able to resolve that shortfall.  I headed up to Waukegan keen to see what sort of day was in store.  As with any collection of older aircraft, the chances of much flying are relatively limited since the planes are usually in need of some sort of care.  However, there were a few parked out on the apron when I got there.

wpid7397-AU0E5396-Edit.jpgSean and Mike were busy taking care of them as I wandered up.  The first thing Sean told me was that he had flown the Bird Dog that morning and that it was a shame I hadn’t been there.  Indeed so!  Telling me I have missed out on a great opportunity is just cruel!  Never mind.  I still haven’t seen the Bird Dog fly so it would have been good to see it let alone fly in it.

wpid7401-AU0E5417.jpgThe project for the day was the T-28 Trojan.  Not so long ago, this aircraft had an engine go bad.  The chip warning light came on while Sean was flying it and, since he was close to the field, he made a speedy descent to land.  The engine pretty much gasped its last as he taxied in.  A rebuild later and now the plane is flying again.  However, as with all engines after overhaul, it is going through a running in period.  This also requires a different grade of oil and a change of oil was the task for the guys.

wpid7405-AU0E5466.jpgWith the new oil in, the engine was run and the oil topped off.  Then it was time for a flight.  Jeff is a regular T-28 pilot and member of the Trojan Horseman and he came along to fly with Sean in the back seat.  Putting hours on the airframe is the goal but not going too far from the field in case anything goes wrong.  They did their duty flying patterns over the field and I grabbed some shots when I could.  Most of the time they were quite far away but, with the moon traversing the sky, a couple of opportunities presented themselves for shots with the moon in the background.

wpid7395-AU0E5379-Edit.jpgI also grabbed some shots of the aircraft on the ground while they were off doing their thing.  I haven’t got much before of the Bird Dog so spent a bit of time with it including getting some shots of the cockpit.  Harsh exterior lighting meant a but of HDR was required for some of the shots but hopefully it isn’t too obvious!  I have shot these planes a lot over time but there is always a chance for something new.  Good to see you guys again and hopefully it won’t be so long next time!

Trying Something Different

If you are not a fast jet pilot, you might think that being one is close to the pinnacle of flying excitement.  Everything else would seem rather tame by comparison.  However, you might just be wrong.  During the course of the Waukegan Airshow, Paul Wood of the Warbird Heritage Foundation hosted a number of the performers.  The A-10 and F/A-18 crews both paid I visit while I was there and they all took a chance to go flying.

The aircraft of choice was the Boeing Stearman.  Sean took then flying (including his friend Russell – a local guy originally).  It is safe to say that everyone came back grinning like kids.  They had a bunch of fun playing around with something totally different – not least of which is the open cockpit.

During the after show party, Stewie (who flies Hornets during the day) checked out a number of the collection’s other planes.  He certainly looked like he would have taken a lot of things home with him if he had the chance!

Waukegan Part 2 – The Military Stuff

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!

More WHF Fun!

Some days things are just looking like they will be good.  The Warbird Heritage Foundation have their newly restored P-51 Mustang, Baby Duck, ready for flight.  Before they can do too much with it, they need to get some hours on the engine.  Consequently, they have had Vlado Lenoch coming across to fly the aircraft when possible to build the hours.

I knew that they had intentions to fly in the week before Christmas but I didn’t know exactly when.  However, the weather was crap for the majority of the week.  When I saw a  good forecast for Friday and I had some free time, I decided to take a chance and head on up to see if anything was happening.  If not, it was still a nice day to be out and about!

As it was, not only did the guess prove to be accurate, I got a bit luckier than even I had expected.  Baby Duck was out on the ramp when I arrived which was a good sign.  Indeed she would be flying and Vlado was coming to fly her.  What is the easiest way for Vlado to get there?  In his P-51 of course.  Paul also was planning on flying one of the other aircraft that day as well.  Bonus!

Vlado showed up and got ready to fly the Duck.  I scooted across the field to be in a position for good light and angles and it wasn’t long before Vlado was taxiing out.  A few other aircraft movements kept me amused while he headed out to the departure end.  Before I had left the hangar, I had foolishly suggested to Vlado that he keep it low on departure.  That was a pretty redundant thing to say.  Vlado certainly kept the aircraft in a good position for me as he came past and he built up speed before turning it into height.

I headed back since we didn’t know how long they would be out.  They actually landed away so were gone for quite a while.  Chris Doud had been in the right place to bag the back seat so he was having a great time.

When they got back, Paul had a chat with Vlado about how the flight had gone and then got ready to take the T-2 up for a run.  Vlado was also heading home in Moonbeam McSwine so I made a second run across the field to get the departures again.  They ended up heading out close together.  Both provided sporty departures so I was considering the day a very productive one.

I headed back to the hangar to await the return of the T-2.  They broke back into the pattern and landed so some taxi in shots and then a few pictures of a very happy back seat passenger made for the end of the day.  Time to head back to Chicago and enjoy all the traffic could offer on the last day before Christmas!

Scooter Time Again

For those of you that have hung around here for a while, hopefully there is more than one of you, you will know that I have spent a lot of time shooting with the Warbird Heritage Foundation up at Waukegan. If you saw my recent post on the T-6, you will know that I was up at Waukegan to see the A-4 fly again. The A-4 is a great little jet and one that I love to see in action.

The aircraft has some new stores fitted underwing. These are practice bomb carriers and they add to the options for displaying the aircraft. They certainly look good. The weather was great on the day I went up and Paul wanted to get up and flying as quickly as he could. He had other things to get to later in the day so getting the jet up and running was a priority. First it required an engine run and a leak check after the servicing and then it should be good to go.

The engine run went well and a couple of minor things were noted and fixed. Then it was time to fly. I decided it would be best to head across the field. The hangar is north of the runway and doesn’t have the best light angle for the aircraft taking off. Fortunately, the wind, while light, meant that the jet would be departing heading in to the light so, from a position by the other hangar (the maintenance hangar is called the Bunker) should provide a good view.

This worked out well, Paul certainly helped by keeping the jet relatively low as he transitioned the gear up. I got some nice close shots as he came by and then he pulled up into a steep climb out. Certainly great and worth the trip – the T-6 flight was a cherry on the top!

Time in the T-6

I recently popped up to Waukegan to see the good folks at the Warbird Heritage Foundation. I was up there to take some shots of their A-4 Skyhawk. It was scheduled to fly and the weather was looking particularly good so it seemed like an opportunity not to miss. A post on that will follow soon.

While I was there, the Chief Pilot, Herwig, was getting ready to take up the T-6 to run a check on the adjustments that had been made to the aileron trim. When he asked if I wanted to come along, I think you can guess what my answer was.

This was to be my first trip in a T-6. I minimized what photography equipment I was going to take along in order to keep things simple. Since we weren’t shooting anything else, I really only had two shot options. The ground or myself. Needless to say, I had a go at both. There is something very self centered but fun about shooting yourself in the cockpit while flying. I like shooting the pilot too but in the case of the T-6, the best I can get is the back of Herwig’s head!

The flight was a quick one and the trim checks were carried out before heading back to Waukegan. An overhead break into the pattern and then we were back on terra firma. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Thanks guys.

What a good excuse a visitor is!

I got a message from a buddy of mine the other day that he was going to be in town.  Paul Dunn is a pilot with British Airways and was scheduled to be doing the run to O’Hare.  Paul has a second job as Editor (Rest of the World) for Global Aviation Resource, a website run out of the UK but covering aviation issues across the world.  I highly recommend you check their website out at www.globalaviationresource.com as they produce weekly news updates that usually incorporate three or more articles.  They have developed a well earned reputation for the diversity of their themes and the relationships they have developed with their subjects.  (Full disclosure:  I have written a couple of pieces for them too!)

When Paul told me he was going to be in town, I took a look at what we might be able to do in the brief time he was here.  Chicago is a city with plenty to see but we are both rather into the aviation side of things so I wanted to see whether we could get anything sorted out more of that nature.

A call to my friends at the Warbird Heritage Foundation provided the solution.  Paul Wood, the founder of WHF, confirmed that they would be busy that day at their base and if we wanted to pop in, we were welcome to see whatever they had underway.  With Paul (Dunn, not Wood) having to be back at O’Hare by mid afternoon to head back to London, we went for an early start.

Leaving Chicago in the morning means you are going to have the delights of traffic to contend with.  Sure enough, the Kennedy was pretty slow moving.  However, two aviation nuts can always find things to discuss if time is available so we were fine and, despite how long we were in traffic, the run up to Waukegan was not much longer than I would normally plan.  More importantly, it was turning out to be a rather lovely day from a weather perspective.

When we got to the hangar, Sean and Mike were already there at work and David had just popped in before heading back to his main job.  The aircraft were all in the hangar with some final checks being made on the A-4 gear.  The F-86 had flown several times in the previous days and everyone was pleased with the way it was running smoothly.  We stayed out of the way of the guys and let them get on with their thing while Paul took a look at the collection.

Paul (Wood) showed up a short while later.  He was off to check on his P-51 project and was taking the T-6 to get up there.  This meant a few aircraft had to be pulled out of the hangar which meant some good photo opportunities to get these lovely vintage aircraft out in the sun.  Some quick shots of the T-6 starting up and departing and then back in to watch the gear swing tests.  All went well.

After lunch, the plan was to prepare the A-4 for some engine runs.  Time was running short for getting back to O’Hare so we had to head out before the runs were done but it was still great to get to see the guys at work and the progress being made ready for the display season.  Thanks again to every at WHF for welcoming us again!

Fun with warbirds

Since it is the beginning of the year from an air show perspective, it is time to get the aircraft up and ready for the new season. The winter is a great time for maintenance to be undertaken and the great team at Warbird Heritage Foundation is no exception. A couple of their aircraft were recently up and about being wrung out after winter maintenance tasks and I was lucky enough to spend some time with them while they were undertaking some test flying.

The WHF team is always very welcoming but they are not alone. Jim’s team at Waukegan airport is also really helpful when trying to get in position to get some good shots of the aircraft as they are being tested. The two aircraft at work this time were the A-4 Skyhawk and the A-1 Skyraider. Two great looking aircraft. The weather is not always going to be cooperative at this time of year – not only from a photography point of view but also from a flying perspective. However, you make the best of the chances that come along.

What better way to spend a day than hanging out with a great team of people and photographing some unusual aircraft. What more can I want? Thanks Paul and team and also thanks to Jim at the airport.