The efforts of aviation’s visionary designers have continually redefined the airplane, with some of their efforts going on to become icons that are recognized worldwide.
The Spirit Up Close.
In an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the Spirit of St. Louis was lowered to the floor of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for cleaning and repair, and Dan Patterson was there with his camera to record history up close.
As Lindy Left It.
The airplane has not been restored and everything is as Charles Lindbergh left it, complete with pencil marks on the panel recording his fuel use.
Shot over Indiana in the summer of 1999, three of North American Aviation’s legendary fighters format for the camera of John Dibbs. These magnificent aircraft are Vlado Lencoch’s P-51D Mustang, Mike Keenum’s F-86D Sabre and Dean «Cutter» Cutshall’s F-100 D Super Sabre.
The Sopwith Camel was sometimes as dangerous to the pilot as it was to the enemy; still, it helped usher in the concept of aerial warfare. Rhinebeck Aerodome’s Camel reproduction, shown here, uses an original rotary engine.
VMF-214 poses with one of its «birds» for a photo op. At the time, the St. Louis Cardinals sent VMF-214—the hottest fighter group at the time—baseball hats to wear when not flying. The group’s aces are in the front row: Robert McClurg is second from the left and Pappy Boyington fourth from the left.
He Made It!
One of the few bright spots for 8th Air Force crews during combat over Western Europe was reaching that «magic number» and being relieved from combat duty. The 91st BG’s «Ragged Irregulars» based at Bassingbourn near London traditionally dunked pilots, who completed that 25th mission, in a utility trailer, as experienced by this hapless, but certainly relieved, combat veteran.
The tiny Fokker Dr.1 trip lane carved out a niche for itself in history that is out of proportion to its size or small production numbers. This was courtesy of the Red Baron himself, Manfred von Richthofen. The last surviving trip lane perished in a 1945 bombing raid in Berlin.
Jenny Helped Start it All.
The Curtiss JN-4D Jenny was slow, underpowered and rickety, but it and its readily available surplus OX-5 engine formed the backbone for the post-WW I barnstorming era that led to the birth of the U.S. aviation industry. Today, no more than a handful still fly.
This restored Spitfire Mk. XVI is painted to represent 308th FS, 31st FG Lt. Leland Molland’s Fargo Express. It is owned by Alain De Cadenet and was based at North Weald, UK. The pilot is Norman Lees.
Before the Spitfire.
It’s hard to believe that the Spitfire and the Gloster Gladiator served shoulder to shoulder for a time. In fact, 13 British pilots became biplane aces in the early days of WW II. The top ace, S/L Marmaduke T.S. Pattle, had 15 kills while flying the Gladiator.
One More Time.
An once-in-a-lifetime sight: an original P-26 formats with an original Boeing P-12, each the only one of their type still flying. And the photographer was shooting from the only 0-47 still flying—three sole survivors in a row.
Any landing you can walk away from…
Lt. S. F. Ford walks away from a virtually new Lockheed P-38L-5-LO Lightning that he crash-landed some time after January 1945. His plane on fire, he managed to break away from the combat and pancake the burning fighter somewhere on Mindoro Island.
Although the outer wings were completely torn off as the engines and tail booms were totally demolished, Ford, obviously dazed and certainly in need of medical care, was able to exit the cockpit and stagger away from the burning aircraft.
A sharp combat photographer reacted quickly to take the picture even before others could arrive to give aid to the pilot.
P-38s were the first Allied fighters allowed over the beachhead in Normandy during the epic D-Day invasion of 1944. Its unique profile was deemed the least likely to become victim to friendly fire. The Fighter Collections’ P-38L presents a classic belly view resplendent in full D-Day invasion stripes.
Nieuport 11 «Bebe».
It isn’t known how many rotary-powered aircraft still fly regularly, but it is safe to assume it’s only a handful. Note the engine spinning on Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s Nieuport 11: the propeller and the engine turn as a unit.
Warfare at the Beginning.
A true, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants airplane, the Nieuport’s instruments only tell the pilot the altitude and how fast the engine is turning; the pilot knows the rest by feel. The ignition button on the control stick is used to «blip» the engine and acts as a throttle. The Lewis Gun (below) must be pulled down into the cockpit to be reloaded after firing less than 100 rounds.
The 300 Club.
The only members of aviation’s «300 Club,» Majors Erich Hartmann (352 victories) and Gerhard Barkhorn (301) late in the War. Hartmann was barely 23 when the War ended; Barkhorn was 26.
A Long Day Over.
Bf 109E Werk Nr. 3579 sits on Niagara South Airfield in Ontario. Flown during the Battle of Britain by Luftwaffe legend Hans Joachim Marseille, White 14 wears its original battle colors.
The Bf 109’s DB601 V-12 is mounted inverted in the airframe to help accommodate the hub- mounted cannon. This yellow-nose pattern was typical of the Luftwaffe fighter force from autumn 1940 and helped to identify friend from foe during the melees of the Battle of Britain.
An Original Warrior.
The Shuttleworth Collection’s original SE5a piloted by Chris Huckstep skirts the clouds above its Old Warden base in Bedfordshire, England. Later the same day, Huckstep would get airborne in his No. 1 Squadron Harrier jump jet … the irony being that 80 years of technology allowed him to fly that frontline fighter both 600mph faster and 137mph slower than his WW I classic.
Praise the Lord and Pass the…
In what appears to be a staged photo, armors from the 4th FG prepare to install .50-caliber machine guns and armor-piercing ammo in the group’s Mustangs. Note the pierced-steel planking being used as a hardstand.
Rosie the Riveter and Mary the Mechanic.
June 1942; North American Aviation, Inglewood, California: one of the thousands of women who helped to build airplanes for the War effort connects spark plug wires to the spark plugs on a radial engine for, possibly, a B-25.
Although it’s doubtful this formation was duplicated even once during WW II, it’s nice to see old warriors formatting to pass in review.
A faithful reproduction of the original Sikorsky S-38 utilized by the Johnsons during their seemingly never-ending treks through Africa, the original proved to be surprisingly reliable transpiration.
The Yankee Air Museum’s stunning B-17G Flying Fortress Yankee Lady sweeps through a pure Midwest summer sky, painted in the colors of an 8th Air Force, 538th BS Fortress, a unit that was based in England during WW II.
Something Very Old, Something Very New.
A long way from the hostile European theater, this reborn Dornier Do 24 touches down on .Lake Winnebago during the annual fly-in in Oshkosh; Wisconsin; The only flying example left in the world, this Do 24ATT (amphibious tech nology test bed) displays new. Technology in the form of a more aerodynamic wing structure and a trio of modern engine and propeller-blade designs.
This is where legendary aces did their best work. The K-14A compensating gun sight at the top helped the pilot pull lead while making deflection shots. A cable connected a twist grip on the throttle to the gun- sight to allow the pilot to set the reticule to the wingspan of his target for ranging. The red handle is the canopy jettison mechanism, and the crank (center right) is used to open and close the canopy.
The Kreutzer light trimotor — called the «Air Coach»— targeted corporate users. But Kreutzer’s plans were thwarted by miscalculations and plain bad luck: two prototypes proved unsatisfactory, and the third, which appeared early in 1929, was destroyed by a fire. NC-612 is the sole survivor of the breed.
Although using mostly remanufactured parts, Ryan M-1 N2073, serial no. 7, is registered as a 1926 airplane. No. 7 was used by Pacific Air Transport in 1926 and 1927 to carry airmail and passengers from Los Angeles to Seattle with a number of stops between. A one-way ticket cost $138.
Spartan In Name Only.
The wide panel allows a full complement of modern instrumentation. The impossible-to-find original Spartan control yoke was an unexpected gift from another Spartan owner.
Before There Were Learjets.
At a time when the big biplanes like the Staggerwing and cabin WACOs were the choice of businessmen, the Spartan Executive came on the scene looking as modern as the Space Shuttle.
Guiseppe Bellanca was known for producing wildly efficient, unorthodox designs that could carry more than they should, and with every surface designed to lift, the 1930 Aircruiser certainly fit that description.
The Aerial Limousine.
The fastest of the fabled WACO line of cabin biplanes, the 450hp SRE was luxury personified.
A Radical Ryan.
Employing all the technology of the time: high-aspect ratio, finely tapered wings, aerodynamically sleek cowling and windshield, Claude Ryan’s people put it all into the little SCW but sold very few. People want cheap, not good.
World of the Weasel.
During the first Gulf War, Wild Weasel F-4G Phantoms were tasked with B-52 escort missions and drawing SAM fire from the Iraqi ground defenses. Once the enemy SAM site lit up, the Wild Weasels would ram a HARM missile down its throat.
The Warrior’s Warrior.
When you think about modern fighter pilots and their leaders, only one name comes to mind: Robin Olds. No modern pilot or leader has come close to the nearly fanatical loyalty and respect given to him by his men. And he deserved it.