Friday, December 5, 2014

The Friday Flyby - The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

VF-24 - Future VADM James A. Winnefeld, Jr. (l) and Future Author Dave "Bio" Baranek (r) (Source)
While down in the DC area, I had the opportunity to head on out to the vicinity of Washington Dulles International Airport and visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Which is not actually at Dulles but might as well be (see the map). One of the delights of this trip was having the chance to meet fellow blogger Murphy's Law. I could have called this post "Udvar-Hazy Part VI (I Think), A Continuation of the Series of Posts from Lagniappe's Lair." But that is far too long a name. Not that I haven't...

Yup, digressed there, didn't I?

Oh yes, the map...

Google Maps
(Have I ever mentioned my love for maps? That would be a "chart" for you aquatic types. We land animals call them maps.)

Now Udvar-Hazy (as I call it) is an annex (or companion facility, if you will) of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. Now the one on the National Mall I visited a couple of years ago and which I was dragged out of by the female personnel of my tribe who (for some reason) did not want to spend many hours gazing at aircraft, rockets and sundry other aerospace vehicles. (Big sigh....)

By now you're probably wondering what that opening photo has to do with this post. My but you're an impatient lot, but I digress.

While departing the museum, Murphy's Law and I spotted the following chap, seated at a table selling books. Well, multiple copies of one book, said book's title catching my eye immediately -
by Dave "Bio" Baranek

Dave "Bio" Baranek now (Source)
First of all, other than the book (so perhaps "second of all") this fellow is wearing an aviator type jacket and has wings of gold on that jacket. (Not to mention which he knows how to spell TOPGUN - one word, all caps, don't ask. ISYK on that last part. Don't. Ask.)

So Murph and I head over to his book-laden table and start talking. Great guy. (He's a RIO. At first I misidentified him as an aviator. Then I noted the wings, two anchors, not one. Naval Flight Officer, hence a Radar Intercept Officer, or RIO. Now-a-days the Hornet and Rhino backseaters are called WSOs. I think I'm digressing again...)

Of course I bought the book.

Of course it is autographed.

I love the "Includes more Top Gun movie secrets" bit on the cover.
(Bio said that this was an update, so I guess this would be the Mark 1 Mod 1 version!)

He was a lot of fun to talk with. I asked him how he got his call sign. As his last name rhymes with "bionic", that's what they tagged him with. Then one day one of his pilots decided that "Bionic" was "just too damn long." So he became just "Bio."

When I'm done reading the book, I'll report on it here. (There are two ahead of this one in the queue. Can't skip to it, I'm in the middle of Bernard Cornwell's Grail Quest trilogy. Surely you understand?)

Aircraft? What about aircraft? Oh yeah! Udvar-Hazy has a crap ton of aircraft. Every time I turned around it was "OMG, they've got one of those!" Seriously awesome museum. I must go back.

P-40 and SR-71 near the main entrance.

Fishbed, Intruder and Phantom, Oh My!
MiG-21F, A-6E & F-4S
(And an 01-A Bird Dog up high!)

I loves me some Corsair!

F6F-3 Hellcat

One of the last wooden fighters
Hurricane IIC
Old Adversaries Part I
Kawanishi N1K2-Ja and P-47D

This P-38 means BUSINESS!
A lovely bird, aircrews didn't like it!
SB2C-5 Helldiver
An Old AF Sarge Favorite!
P-61C Black Widow
One of the best fighters of WWII, the Focke Wulf
Fw 190F
I had no idea it was this tall!
Do 335 A1 Pfeil
Weird looking but deadly, thankfully few were built.
Ar 235 B Blitz jet bomber
Another Old AF Sarge Favorite and another night fighter
First operational aircraft to include ejection seats. Seriously, look it up.

He 219 A Uhu
Old Adversaries Part II
Mig-15bis and F-86A
I'm betting ORPO recognizes this bird!
A-6E Intruder
Sigh. A relative of an old girlfriend. Kinda. Sorta
Marine F-4S
(I worked the F-4C and F-4D.)
Heh, I love the call signs!
(You in there Old NFO?)
I'll betcha a few of you recognize this warbird!
The National Air and Space Museum's Tomcat (BuNo. 159610) was built as an F-14A-85-GR and was one of the few Tomcats that was modified as an F-14D(R) in the early 1990s. It is credited with one MiG kill which was earned on January 4, 1989, near the coast of Libya.
First time I saw the Thunderbirds this was their bird.
The Hun
Her Majesty, the Thud
Somebody call for a fighter?
RF-8G Crusader
An Army recruiter tried to convince me to fly this in 1973. 20-100 in one eye, my good eye. (20-200 in t'other!)
Uh-1H Huey
Now this bird is awesome in person!
1049F Super Constellation
Boeing 307 Stratoliner

The Westland Lysander Mk IIIA, another OAFS favorite.
The RAF used it to drop agents behind enemy lines in WWII. Among other things...
I need to get back there again. Probably later this month! (Yup, going to Alexandria for New Years and a gathering of the tribe.)


  1. Next time I say we hide in there until after closing when everyone is gone, and then we fly the planes.

    1. I'm in! (That would be so cool...)

    2. I can just see it. They open up in the morning and boarding ladders are deployed everywhere.

    3. Man, I hadn't thought of that!

      That would be a dead giveaway that Murph had been there!

  2. Sarge, we need to plan an outing with a few months lead time. I'd like to visit both museums in the area, but can't swing it on just a couple of weeks notice. Great pics though, lots of favorites.

    1. That is a capital idea. We should start thinking about next year, maybe the spring. (Humidity in DC is beastly in the summer from what I've heard.)

      I would absolutely love that!

  3. I am officially jealous. Planes, planes and more planes! I was picking my favorite planes but you know what? All planes are my favorite planes! What a great start for Friday!!

    1. Yup, if it flies, chances are I probably love it.

      I only have about a hundred favorites. Plus or minus 50.

  4. Don't care what anyone says, F4U is the most beautiful bird ever flown. Spitfires, P-51's, meh. Although I alwaysubscribed to the " there are more aircraft lost in the sea than submarines lost in the air.) dictum, I luv me a Corsair, even with a Marine driving it. (Knew a couple that did.)

    1. The Corsair is a beauty with those bent wings, long nose and massive prop.

      And the sound of one on an attack run is not soon to be forgotten. There's reason for it's nickname "The Whistling Death," the last sound a lot of gomers heard in the hills of Korea.

    2. Aww! that's not politically correct. You need some training. BTW, the JAPS gave it that name, for very good reasons.

    3. Hahaha. That's right, can't say "gomers" can I?

      And you're right, the Corsair picked that name up in the Pacific. I always reference the Korean War because of the personal connection.

      I'll try and behave in the future Glenn.

      I'll be over at Sensitivity Training if anyone asks.


    4. I must admit I said JAPS, and will proceed to counselling forthwith. My Dad was at Okinawa on USS LSMR 189 after Nov. 1940 to sinking of USS St. Augustine in early '45. He seemed to like Corsairs too, Marine ones at that.

    5. What? JAPS isn't an acronym for Japanese Armed Personnel in Service?


      See you in training bro!

      (I had an Uncle in the Air Corps who wound up on Okinawa. I followed him 32 years later!)

    6. Heh.

  5. There's a flying `Lizzie` with The Shuttleworth Collection - magnifique! Ditto re my first sight of the Thunderbirds on a tv programme. Love that Hun.

    1. Really? That would be awesome to see.

      The Hun is a classic!

  6. Dang, that is a crap load of planes!

    1. I tell ya Joe, they're everywhere in that building!

  7. The P51 and F4F were the first two model planes I built as a kid ... love 'em both. And 25 yrs ago, had a neighbor who flew P-38s under Gen. Chenault. He had some stories... the guy on the other side went ashore on D-Day and drove ambulances in the Battle of the Bulge. They don't make planes nor men like those, anymore. Dang it.

    1. P-51, Corsair, P-47, Zero, Fw 190, Me 109, P-61, P-38, Spitfire and more all graced the ceiling back when I was a lad.

      Dad was in the Army, was in Berlin though the Blockade. One Uncle in the Air Corps in the Pacific. One Uncle was an infantryman with Patch in Europe. A Great Uncle was in the 4th ID, wounded in the Huertgen Forest.

      A bunch of guys I worked with in the factory before joining the Air Force were WWII vets. B-17 gunners, infantrymen, Marines etc. (One guy had been in the Army on Guadalcanal and had to use a Japanese Arisaka for a while.) Such great men, great stories.

      Times gone by...

  8. Speaking of times gone by and great men, how 'bout Bio's generation of Naval Aviators? You're gonna enjoy the book.

  9. Next time. Next time I go by myself. It is an amazing place of air.

    1. That's the only way you can really take your time and take in all of the amazing things in that place.

  10. You bring up a problem that I encounter when describing myself. "Naval Aviator" What do it mean? Is it just the single anchor guys or do Naval Flight Officers (NFO) qualify? According to Wikipedia..."A naval aviator is a commissioned officer or warrant officer qualified as a pilot in the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps or United States Coast Guard." An NFO as defined "A Naval Flight Officer (NFO) is a commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps that specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots (Naval Aviators) per se, but they may perform many "co-pilot" functions, depending on the type of aircraft."

    You see my problem. Never one to describe myself as something I'm technically not I had to make up a new term. "NavyAiator". Still have to explain what a NFO is but it get the point across opening up for more discussion. I pretty much say the pilots fly the plane (platform, system), I fight the plane (platform, system).

    1. Oh yeah, I get that. My son-in-law is a Naval Aviator (says so on his certificate) and his wife (my daughter) is a Naval Flight Officer (says so on her certificate). For short-hand I will say that they're both in "Naval Aviation." Before the kids went Navy I had no idea that they're not called "pilots" (officially) in the Navy, but Aviators.

      The whole "what's an NFO thing" is really hard to explain to a civilian. I like your term SoCal, covers both bases.

    2. Bio touches on that in his book, explaining that 131x's and 132x's are all naval aviators whether they drive or not.

      What about the enlisted swine? How do we Naval Air Crewmen (NAC) describe ourselves? I usually start with "Now this is no $#!+..."

    3. Interesting! (My son-in-law would disagree. Vociferously no doubt.)

      Heh. That IS no ....

    4. Unless things have changed a great deal, your SIL would be referred to by his WSO (nee rio) as the "nose-gunner."

    5. My daughter will also refer to her pilot as "the driver," as in, "take me to work driver."

      (Personally I like "nose gunner.")

    6. Being in P3s we called them bus drivers.

    7. And an apt name it is!

      (I better be careful as I know a couple of old P-3 drivers!)

  11. Verrah nice pics, what device did you use to capture them? I ask mainly coz all the pics I put up on my Udvar-Hazy posts were taken with my phone. I took my spiffy dSLR with me when I went but the light levels weren't sufficient to use it without a tripod, which I did NOT bring with me. I was six different kinds o' pissed at the time, but the mePhone worked pretty damned well. Excellent, in fact.

    1. Thanks Buck. Most of the pictures were taken with my old trusty Samsung TL100. The light in that hangar drove my camera (and me) nearly insane. It's been a while since I looked at the instructions but the amount of time one holds the shutter button determines when the flash goes off and I seldom managed to do that correctly. A lot of those pictures had to go "into the shop" to have brightness and contrast adjusted. Murphy was having similar difficulties with his (much nicer) camera.

      So the light dawned and I pulled out the good old Samsung Galaxy SIII cell phone, which handled the lighting in the hangar with zero difficulty. (Murph tried his as well, no problemo.) Amazing how far cell phones have come. I use the SIII for nearly all my photos now. It's just more time consuming to transfer them to my computer. Have I mentioned that my computer doesn't "like" my cell phone? Sometimes it won't recognize it at all!

  12. I've flown in and out of Dulles more times than I can remember. I never seem to find the time to stop by. Next trip I'll just fly home the next day and leave myself the time.

    1. It's well worth it. I need to go back, there's things in the pictures I didn't notice when there in person!

  13. Isn't that unusual for a fighter pilot to proclaim that he is "one of the best"? ;-)

    I was impressed by 2 thinks at the Annex - the engine collection - even had a prototype 36 cylinder 5,000 hp radial engine - and so many rarest of the rare planes including a couple of German WW2 that were maybe 1 of 2/3 made.

    And they had that Japanese seaplane that had a Japanese-licensed copy of hte German DB600 series engine - easily identified because it was an inverted V12 - exhaust stacks towards the bottom of the cowling

    You could spend almost a day wandering around the annex, and easily a couple of days at the main Air & Space museum

    1. It is unusual for a fighter guy to proclaim himself to be "one of the best." In my experience, they always claim to be "the best." Just sayin'...

      The collection at Udvar-Hazy is amazing. We spent three hours there, I can tell you, it wasn't enough. I've been to the main museum twice, again, not long enough. Every time I get home I find something I missed.

      Good thing I have family in the area so I can go back again and again!


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Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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