The Loudest of Them All

The Bearcat is my favorite of all the cats. Grumman has a great number of cats but out of all of them, this one takes the cake. As you well know by now, my background in war birds mainly steams from the Reno Air Races, and if you know anything about the Air Races, you know that the Rare Bear is the home town champion. As the hometown champion, of course it is my favorite, but it runs deeper than that! Before we really get into all of that, lets learn a little bit about this beast.

f8f-5aThe F8F Bearcat was the last propeller driven aircraft built by Grumman. Over 1,200 of them were produced. Grumman improved upon their earlier models to create this cat. It had a bubble canopy, better maneuverability, a lightweight design, and a great ability to climb. The Bearcat was not able to fight during World War II but proved very useful in fighter later on because it handled so well. The US Navy and the Marines used the aircraft, as well as Vietnam, France, and Thailand. Photo Credit

Now back to the Rare Bear! Here is a great video of the Rare Bear flying during the 2013 Gold Race at Reno. This plane has been a staple at Reno. The talk is always “Who will win gold this year? Do you think the Bear or…?” In fact every year my Uncle’s and I always take a bet on who will win, and I always bet on the Bear. 

rarebearDASHIt’s sound is truly unique. All of the planes scream around the track, but the Bear, well the it roars around the track. I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with the crew and owners of this plane. I have watched it go through so many face lifts that I can’t even recall them. I can’t wait to see what she will do this year! Photo Credit

Who do you think will win at Reno this year? Leave a comment below!


The Galloping Horse

Today’s post is about one of the most recognized Warbird of them all, the P-51 Mustang. It is an icon for World War II fighters. My favorite P-51’s are the ones that fly during the Air Races. Yes they are highly modified to reach high speeds, but they are the ones that I am most connected to.

P-51-361Over 15,000 were built by the North American Aviation company. They are known for their excellence range of 1,000 miles and easy maneuverability made these planes a favorite for countless missions. They had the ability to be protectors of bomber, as well as the ability to carry explosives. They were used by a number of countries including the US Air Force, the British Airforce, and the Chinese Air Force. The Mustang was retired in 1964. Photo Credit

As I said above, my favorite P-51’s are air racers. Strega and VooDoo are the most notable. Each have won Reno Gold and a riot to watch. Flying at speeds over 500 miles per hour, these Mustangs are some of the fastest in the world. urlI am honored to know the pilots and be able to spend time with the crews during the races. I can’t wait to see what they do this year at Reno. Here is a hair raising video of the first lap of the Gold Race in 2013. The sound and angle are amazing! Photo Credit

Are you going to come to the Reno Air Races this year? If so what plane are you rooting for? Please leave comments below.


Today In History…..

Did you know that exactly 69 years ago today, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan? In honor of the anniversary, today’s post is about the B-29. And not just any B-29, it is about the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare. b29-at-renton_27623Photo Credit

Now to focus on the Enola Gay, and the attack that essentially ended World War II. The airplane was assigned to fly the mission carrying “Little Boy”, one of the two atomic bombs, weighing 9,000 pounds. Paul Tibbets was the pilot and played a key role in the success of the overall mission. Everything about the project was secret. He later recorded his memories of the project in a book, The Flight of the Enola Gay, in which he says that the 12 crew members were asked to fully commit to the mission before even knowing what it entailed. In fact they were finally briefed on the nature of the weapon and its power mere hours before taking off to complete the mission.

Fun Fact: The Enola Gay was named after Paul Tibbets mother.

tibbets.enola_The mission required an extreme amount of man power, requiring a total of 7 B-29’s in total. Each had a specific job, some being scouts while others were in charge of pictures and scientific readings. Hundreds of people spent months planning every possible part of the attack, down to the last minute. In order to have a successful mission, the Enola Gay took off from Tinian in the Marianas at 2:45AM. They arrived at Hiroshima, received confirmation that the was the correct site and received the coded command to drop “Little Boy”. The bomb was dropped at 9:15AM, and directly after the Enola Gay made a 155 degree turn, and headed back to base. 43 seconds after the bomb had dropped, the explosion occured roughly 2,000 feet off the ground. Altogether the mission lasted 14 hours.  Photo Credit

The book is thrilling to read and gave a great inside look at the entire operation.  I highly recommend the book, it is a great read! CGP-JPAP-021 Photo Credit

Today marks the anniversary of an epic event that affected the world. Amazing to think that none of the crew is alive anymore. We have no one to tell their story. All that is left is old pictures, and the Enola Gay is the Smithsonian.

This is the reason we need to keep these old birds flying. They carry on our history.

What do you think?


What A Beech!

Beech-Boys-Main-631This isn’t just a single Beech, this is a twin engined hauling machine. The Beechcraft Model 18 is an extremely versatile aircraft. They were used during WWII and were easily able to be incorporated into civilian life. I was amazed of the following for this Twin, the most notable of which being this website dedicated to the Model 18. From looking through their website, I really enjoyed reading about the multiple project planes because it is a gathering of the community. Photo Credit

Beech-bomber-nav-trainerThe Model 18 was produced from 1937 – 1970. It is known by many names because the airframe and engines were adapted to the specific use of the airplane. For example, the Model 18A had two 350 horsepower motors, where as the AT-11, used by the Air Force, had bomber and gunner positions along with the adaptations for the guns. There also adaptations for the civilian uses, for example you can get a Model 18 with sea floats or more seats on the interior. Photo Credit

During World War II, the Model 18 was used by the Air Force and the Navy. They were used for training military pilots, bombardiers, and navigators, as well as transport for goods and people. The Navy used the airplanes until 1963, because they were able to haul over 1,000 pounds of goods. Those goods could be people, medical equipment, food and supplies for troops, or artillery.

beech-18Here is a video showing the versatility and ability of the Model 18. Now granted this is a little over the top but it is great to see someone having a great time flying. Now days these beauties are used for all sorts of things! They are used to seed clouds, skydiving, spraying for crops, and banner towing among a few things. Photo Credit

What do you think of this beautiful Beech? Would you jump out of one? Leave a comment below.

The Frisky Feline

Today’s post is about the one of the fiercest felines around, the F7F Tigercat. Once again Grumman comes in with another beautiful cat to add to their family. The Tigercat has two powerful engines, mounted on either side of the fuselage, mid wing.

la patornaWhen I think of a Tigercat on the ground I always picture the tall gear that allow the plane to sit up so high, in a way keeping watch of the airport around her. You have to look up to see the artwork on the side.

This could be because of the time I’ve spent around them at the Reno Air Races. I always seem to find myself standing at staring at their noses. Here Kitty Kitty and La Patrona are among my favorites. They have stunning nose art and are always pristine polished. They are loved by their crews, and it shows in how well maintained the airplanes are. Photo Credit 1 Photo Credit 2 Here Kitty Kitty

Grumman manufactured just under 400 of the Tigercat in 3 years. Unfortunately this fighting machine did not see very much action. It was primarily used during the Korean to fly night mission. It was retired after 10 years in service, and was not picked up by another country.

If you want to see one of these fly in real life come to the Reno Air Races and watch them race! Seeing these old birds fly is amazing!

Best Silhouette Belongs To…..

imageThe best silhouette, in my opinion, goes to the Corsair. This is one of the most distinct airplanes in my mind. I love to watch them fly by, it looks as if they are slicing through the air. In fact I even love to watch these planes taxi around. Photo Credit

The Corsair, also known as the F4U, was originally built by Chance Vought. The aircraft was so popular and in high demand that Goodyear and Brewster started producing them because the demand overwhelmed the Vought factory.  They were originally designed to be used on aircraft carriers, hence the folded wing design. They were not the best fit for the aircraft carrier due to their instability on landing and were replaced by the Hellcat. The Corsair did find its true calling flying land missions with the Marines. Over 12,000 were produced from 1942 to 1953. 

The Corsair combines all my favorite things: a loud round engine, sleek sexy lines, and speed. Watching this video gave me chills. From the slow start up, with the chugging of the engine, to the prop starting to catch I held my breathe. As she taxis around the corner, and the wings start to unfold, I get chills running down my spine and goosebumps on my arms. Then to hear the roar of the engine as the wings slice through the air is the cherry on top of the best cake you can imagine. I hope that you feel the same as me.

imageI wish that everyone could experience the beauty and sleekness of the Corsair. Please go out and find one and just looked at it. I hope you get to walk around and see it from every angle, and I guarantee that it looks amazing from all angles. Photo Credit

What is your favorite warbirds? Can you see why this is mine?

Thank you for reading and let’s keep the old birds flying!!


The Classic Bi-Plane

When people think of early flight, the first thing to come to mind is of course the Wright Brothers. n3n_000Second to that is a bi-plane, specifically a Stearman. I’m not here today to talk about the Stearman though, today we are going to be talking about the N3N. These two bi-planes seem to be the same but there are a few key differences between them. Photo Credit

The easiest way to describe the differences is that the N3N is simply the Navy’s version of the Stearman. Although this is correct, aficionado’s see the differences as major. The N3N blog goes into great detail about the differences of these aircraft. After reading their post I see the most distinctive differences as the tail section being a different shape, the N3N having a more powerful engine, as well as metal wings instead of wood.

The N3N was built by the Naval Aircraft Factory in 1935, the same year in which it took its maiden other_none462flight. Just under 1,000 of the planes, both N3N-1 and N3N-3, were built in the 7 years of production. The plane was used by the Coast Guard and the Navy. It was also the last bi-plane to be used in combat during WWII. It was finally retired from training in 1961 and since has become a collectors item. Here is a great video depicting the passion and love of pilots who currently fly the N3N. Photo Credit

I became familiar with the N3N when my Dad told me he was going to learn to fly it. He is a member of the Commemorative Air Force and was lucky enough to be offered the chance to fly this classic. To say I was impressed in an understatement. It has been great to hear my Dad’s stories about how it handles and the quirks of flying an open cockpit. I’m still trying to get a ride but fingers crossed that one day it will happen. The picture to the left is of my Dad, getting ready to go out on an early morning flight in the N3N, out of Stead Airport in Reno, Nevada. This is my photo.



Please leave your comments about the N3N below, and make sure to check out the video linked above!

Keep the old birds flying!