Monday, April 27, 2015

Formation School


According to FAA Order 8700.1 Ops Inspection Handbook Chapter 49 Section 5D, "Civil pilots who wish to conduct nonaerobatic formation flybys in the air show display area for an air show must possess a current and valid industry formation training and evaluation credential that is acceptable to AFS‑800."

When you run that statement through Google Translate (selecting Bureaucratese in the from section and Fighter Pilot in the to section) it says:  If you're going to fly in formation at an airshow, you've got to have done that recently so that you don't 1) bust your butt and 2) hurt someone on the ground and 3) this currency will cost you money beyond fuel and maintenance.

So,  There I was...* making my way to church this morning, slightly after dawn.  Since Mrs. Juvat's vehicular mode of transportation has just been returned  after a kamikaze strike by a deer on Palm Sunday, I am actively searching the various attack vectors.  As I pass the end of the runway of the local airport, I cast a quick glance at the apron.  It is full.

This being a tourist town, the ramp being full on the weekend is not unusual, but being full of AT-6 Texans captures my attention.  This happens a couple of times a year for the aforementioned Formation School.  I mention to my spouse that formation school is going on.  She reminds me to resume my visual scan as there are deer out there.  Lurking.  

Church over, I decide to drive by and see what's out there as I can see at least one aircraft will appeal to the Navy readers herein.  It's wings were folded. The wife, being the nice person she is decides to humor me and so we stop in.  There were 16 AT-6s on the ramp, bedecked in a very wide array of paint schemes.  

Given the design of the hotel and restaurant as well as the searchlight and watertower, one could be forgiven for believing they'd travelled back in time to a WWII training base.

The hotel is the furthest building.  The diner is partially obscured by the prop blade 

As an aside, when Formation School is scheduled, we try to stop in at the Hotel Bar (it's named the Officer's Club) and watch the pilots (mostly old guys) play Crud.  It's humorous.


Anyhow, that was my one allotted digression.  The AT-6s were pretty cool, but the real joys were on the other end of the ramp.

First there was this.


I had seen this one before and talked to the owner.  I didn't see him this time, but IIRC this is one of two flying Wildcats in existence (there may be more than that, but the number can probably be counted on one hand).  I asked him how it flew and he surprised me by saying it turned excellently and could sustain the turn well.  The other thing of interest was the only hydraulic system on board was for the brakes.  Flaps were vacuum activated and the gear is hand cranked.

Parked just beyond the Wildcat was the belle of the ball as far as I was concerned.
A beautiful aircraft on any day, this one is very well maintained.

The BN number and paint scheme replicate that of the aircraft flown by Lt Thomas Hudner during the Korean War.  Lt Hudner's flight lead had taken a hit from AAA near the Chosin Reservoir and crash landed.  His flight lead, Ensign Jesse Brown was trapped in the aircraft by the crash.  Lt Hudner crash landed his Corsair beside Ensign Brown and attempted to extract him from the aircraft which was on fire.  Ultimately unsuccessful because the Ensign died from his injuries, Hudner was rescued by helocopter and returned to the USS Leyte (CV-32).  For his actions, Lt Hudner received the Medal of Honor, the first awarded during the Korean War.  Source


Reluctantly leaving the Corsair, I turned to view the next aircraft in line.  
Mrs Juvat liked this aircraft because of the Flying Tiger!
This P-40N served in the RCAF during the War.  It was restored and painted with the markings of Tex Hill's aircraft from the Flying Tiger days.  He passed away in 2007 in San Antonio and at the 2008 Lackland Open House, they had a Memorial Flyover in his honor, with an F-22, F-15, F-16 and this aircraft. Source




The Flying Tiger
The next two aircraft were also favorites of mine.





A P-51D named "Buzzin Cuzzin".  This one intrigues me.  As I did a little research on the USAAF tail number, Google led me to this website.  The P-51 this one is painted to represent was flown out of Duxford England, by then Lt William Spengler.  
Bill Spengler (center), pilot of P-51 Buzzin' Cuzzin, crew chief Staff Sergeant Deltner D Suess (Left) and armorer Cpl. Vernon C Nelson (Right).
Photo courtesy of American Air Museum.com

Not recognizing that name, I went back to Google and asked them.  Found a very interesting and useful website for those of us interested in WWII Air War.  (Sarge, you listening?)

The site is the American Air Museum in Britain.  It is run by the Imperial War Museum which is a fantastic Museum in and of itself.  This website allows you to search their database by entering names of American Airmen who flew in WWII from England.  I found a short blurb about Lt Spengler there and it was refreshing with the ordinariness of the blurb.  It describes his getting a couple of probables in a couple of missions.  Certainly, nothing to be ashamed about, but it wasn't Fighter Ace either.  I thought it admirable that the Museum would gather the story of an ordinary person who fought in the war.  The Nimitz does that also, but I'm glad there is more than one place that does. Using the site's mapping function, I found a couple of folks in the local area  who flew bombers in the war, one of whom was shot down and evaded.  (There were no details available other than that he evaded.  If I find him I'll ask.)

The final aircraft on parade today was another P-51D.
I recognized the name immediately as I'm sure many of you will.

For those who don't, here's another clue.
Again, this wasn't his actual aircraft, merely one painted to represent his.  While General Yeager gained his fame by flying very fast, it's important to remember that he'd served in combat in Europe first.  

The AT-6s buzzed my house all day Saturday and made a couple of passes after I left the airport this morning.  I did see the Corsair depart although he didn't get close enough to my place to take a decent picture.  But the sound of his engine stayed around for a very long time after he disappeared from view.  

Never did see or hear the Mustangs depart, but they weren't on the ramp when I went into town this afternoon.
One last one for Murph

32 comments:

  1. Great post Juvat.

    I'll also point out that the Corsair is from VF-32, the Fighting Swordsmen. Current callsign Gypsy now known as VFA-32 flying the Rhino out of Oceana as part of CAG-3. USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN-75). They have a great motto, Deus et Patria - For God and Country.

    Why do I point that out? 'Tis The WSO's first operational squadron!

    So yeah, they're family.

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  2. Nice pics, and that is an awesome array of aircraft.

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    1. Thanks, still need to update (ok, flat out buy) a camera. The phone just isn't cutting it. Could've had the Corsair in flight with something like yours. It wasn't that far off.

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  3. Another Monday vastly improved by pictures of aircraft. Especially the Corsair!!!

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    1. Thanks, It really was a beautiful airplane. It was obvious the owner and maintainers take very good care of it.

      What I didn't realize was how big it was. It dwarfed everything else on the ramp. The wingspan was wider than the Phantom's.

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  4. What a great way to spend some time on a Sunday. Major envy here.

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    1. It was a very nice day. Most of the owners were out there, answering questions. The P-40 owner was out there also, cleaning his plane. I've got a few pics I didn't use with towels and rags hanging out of hatches. Applying a little TLC as they say.

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  5. Great post and pics Juvat! As much as I love the museum iron, the flying ones are better by far.

    Re Corsair size, Tommy Blackburn called his Corsair Big Hog.

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m4p3cm3DsQ1qasw04o1_1280.jpg

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    1. Thanks,
      Big Hog, I can see that. Great pic there and for those (like me) who don't recognize the name, click here The guys in the picture do look like they might fly the Jolly Roger flag.

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    2. The Patriarch of all Jolly Rogers. Big shoes that have been filled by a lot of extraordinary Naval Aviators.

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    3. Blackburn was the man. Geez, Juvat...do I gotta send you his book, or what? I will. It'a a great read.

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    4. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa. It is downloading to my Kindle as we speak.

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    5. Ok, Heckuva lead in by Adm Stockdale. As they say in the Air to Air business, "Fight's On!"

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    6. Finished it. Really good read. Would have been proud to have served in his squadron.

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  6. Wow! Did Mrs Juvat have to pry you away? One thing I read about the F4U - among all warbirds the "if you have to ask" mantra applies - they are very expensive to fly (eg, the Merlin on a Mustang has a TBO of generally 600 hours - "if you go easy on the supercharger" (according to an owner I spoke with years ago)...

    But the Corsair, because of its complexity - is in a class by itself even in that rarefied group.

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    1. She dropped a few hints, but I think she had a pretty good time also.

      I would expect that you are right about the cost of flying one, but the day after I win the lottery.....

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  7. Thoroughly enjoyed your post this morning! Anything with big round engines or a Rolls/ Packard Merlin perks me up. Juvat- what airport is this?

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  8. Thanks.
    It's Gillespie County Airport (TX, but you knew that).

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  9. Fredericksburg! One of my favorite places in TX!

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    1. It's a nice place to visit, and an even better place to live.

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  10. 2800 SHP will make a bit of noise... :-)

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    1. Yeah, but it was a good, powerful kind of noise. A "you don't want to mess with me" noise.

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  11. Oh, just too damned nice by far! I would trade two coffee-spilling Shepherds for that Corsair any day...or even one of those Mustangs!

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  12. As soon as I got close enough to recognize it, I knew you'd be saying that.

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  13. I once posted this at Lex's place, but I think it bears re-telling. The Father of a good friend of mine (who has since unfortunately passed) in New Orleans flew both Hellcats and Corsairs in the Navy in the Pacific in WWII. Once at a Superbowl party circa '96 his son was hosting I got into a conversation with him in which he was telling me how much he loved flying both aircraft. To which I responded by asking if he loved it so much why didn't he stay in post-war and make a career out of it. "Well," he replied, "you see I made seven night combat carrier landings and I figured after the last one that if I wanted to stay alive I'd better get out of the business." LOL!

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    1. I think I remember a physiological study of Navy Pilots in Vietnam that measured their vitals on launch (high), over North Vietnam (very high) and on recovery (highest yet). I had a buddy from Holloman that followed that assignment with an exchange tour on a Carrier. He confirmed that.
      So, VX, I think your buddy was probably correct.

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  14. You got me all excited when I realized that the name of that plane was so glamorous. Turns out you're just a tease, or at least the owner is.

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    1. While I was doing research for the Liberator post, I noticed that at the end of the production run, B-24s were flown from the factory directly to the junk yard. In the rush to decommission, there probably was no thought as towards preserving many historic aircraft. So I guess a paint job is the best we can do.

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  15. Partner, them there yellow "AT-6" aircraft are SNJs.

    ;-)

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