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Sixty five years ago, Chuck Yeager was the first pilot to break the sound barrier during a flight test for the F-15. Yeager was dropped in an experimental rocket-propelled Bell X1 jet from a B-52 Bomber at 45,000 feet to fly and flew faster than Mach 1.
“That’s the only way we could do it,” Yeager said. “It took the British, French and the Soviet Union another five years to find out that trick. It gave us a quantum jump” in aviation advancement, he said.
On Sunday, Chuck Yeager had an easier time flying faster than the speed of sound. Over the Mojave Desert, the same location where he broke the sound barrier for the first time, Chuck Yeager flew a U.S. Air Force F-15 and hit Mach 1.3 Yeager said, he “laid down a pretty good boom over Edwards” Air Base. For the reenactment, Yeager no longer needs the help of a B-52 bomber, today’s F-15 aircraft can reach supersonic speed at 33,000 feet.
“I really appreciated the Air Force giving me a brand new F-15 to fly,” Yeager told CNN.
Chuck Yeager was not the only one breaking the sound barrier last Sunday. The same day, Austrian Felix Baumgartner skydived from a balloon at the edge of space and descended faster than the speed of sound for a 23-mile journey.
From the first supersonic flight, aviation had progressed immensely. Warplanes has a wide range airplane replicas of ancient and modern airplanes. Display your own fleet of model airplanes right at your home.
News source: edition.cnn.com
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Everett Atkinson was only 19 when he enlisted for World War II. At 22 he became the aircraft commander of a B-17 Fortress and in charge of 10-men crew. Then, he was assigned to fly the B-29 Superfortress. Atkinson is now 90 years old and he recently welcomed back the B-29 he flew seventy years ago at when the aircraft visited Carbondale, Illinois.
, nicknamed Fifi, is part of the Commemorative Air Force that tours all over the country. The B-29 squadron of CAF is based in Addison, Texas.
According to Everett Atkinson, the B-29 Superfortress is advanced for its time, even if it has a lot of problems.
“It’s a special occasion today for me to be able to be here and found out that the airplane was coming in and I’m sure the active crew today, much younger young men, will never know what an experience it was for a young kid that was given the job of go do it,” Atkinson said. He also adds, “The B-29 turned out to be an airplane with major problems, especially with the engines. A lot of crashes from engine fires. And crews and planes were lost because of those failures. More crews and planes were lost to those matters than we lost in combat. My wife said years later, ‘If I’d have known how dangerous that B-29 was to fly I would have worried myself to death.’”
Atkinson is ecstatic to meet younger pilots who showed up with the B-29.
“I got a chance to meet with several of the young pilots in there at the desk. I’m very impressed with their interest in aviation and I hope that through visits like this, it will peak their interest in World War II or any world war, aviation was a factor and realize how much we accomplished with our airplanes during World War II with the odds against us.”
Preserve and value history by keeping the spirit of World War II airplanes alive. Warplanes manufactures big model planes from World War I and World War II. Display them in your home keep their legacy burning.
News source: jefferson.kfvs12.com
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The Boeing 747-8 Freighter landed at exactly 5:35 p.m. at the Paris Le Bourget Airport in Le Bourget, France after the first transatlantic flight of a large commercial airplane powered on all engines by a sustainable aviation jet fuel.
Boeing pilots Captain Keith Otsuka, Captain Rick Braun and Cargolux Captain Sten Rossby piloted the 747 Frieghter from Washington Everett to Le Bourget equipped with four of its General Electric GEnx-2B engines powered by a blend of 15 percent camelina-based biofuel mixed with 85 percent traditional kerosene Jet A fuel. However, there are no changes were made to the airplane, its engines or operating procedures prior to departure. Normal flight parameters were followed and approved in advance by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
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In order to meet the half-trillion dollar spending cuts, Pentegon cuts members of its fleet. This move left the tactical air force with limited and aging fleet. The tactical air force are the jets that support and protect ground troops as well as strike difficult subjects.
Retired fighter pilots are worried about the situation of “TacAir.” Reduced budget means that no new jets will replace the airplanes that had been in service since 1970s. It also makes the US Airforce vulnerable and inferior against rising military power like China, who just acquired its own J-20 stealth fighter.
Retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula said “With the exception of our airlift fleet, we have a geriatric Air Force. We’re flying fighters that are 30 years old. What people seem to miss is, a fighter is not like an airliner, where you take off from Point A and go to Point B. Our pilots put six to nine [gravitational forces] on these things every day.”
Gen. Deptula was an F-15 Eagle pilot and Operation Desert Storm war planner. He now heads an aerospace company. He illustrated the danger of elderly jet fighters by sighting the 2007 event when an Air National Guard F-15C, the premier air superiority jet, broke apart in the sky during combat training. Fortunately, the pilot ejected safely.
Recently, the Airforce grounds the entire F-15 fleet due to a manufacturing flaw.
Compared to its 2001 fleet, the total number of Air Force fighters has reduced by nearly 25%. This includes the F-16 Falcons, F-15 Eagles, A-10 Thunderbolts and F-22 Raptors. Budget cuts will drive down the number even further. The Military is retiring over a hundred of A-10s and 21 F-16s. The tactical squadron will probably lose six to ten percent of its fighter planes when more fighter jets are retired due to old age.
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Steve Harvey had been flying since 1966, making him then most seasoned pilot on the Kodiak Island in Alaska. Kodiak Island is home to a large fishing industry and the unique Kodiak bear. Fishermen and hunters are his frequent passengers, some of whom had been acquiring his services for decades. Steve Harvey is Kodiak’s favorite pilot not just because of his expertise, but mostly because of the classic Grumman Widgeon that he flies.
The Grumman Widgeon took its first flight on 1940. There are 280 units built for U.S fliers and another 40 were used in the overseas. After 70 years, Harvey’s Widgeon is one of the very few units that still flies in the U.S. The Grumman Widgeon is a two-engine flying boat that can carry five passengers. Unlike other flying boats that can only take off and land on water, Grumman Widgeon can roll out a pair of wheels so it can land on a runway when the weather makes it dangerous to land on a lake. This quality makes it very suitable for Kodiak.
Since 1950s, Widgeon and another Grumman plane called the Goose reign over the Kodiak skies. They transport fishermen to remote camps and processing plants. Grumman airplanes are preferred in places with little infastracture like Kodiak because it is faster than regular floating airplanes. Plus, they can also hold more cargo than most airplane models.
But beyond all that, the Widgeon is fascinating because it is such a classic. They do not make anything like this anymore and no modern aircraft is equivalent to this. Grumman Widgeon also played a part in history by being in service in World War II, participating in anti-submarine patrols.
Friends had been encouraging Steve Harvey to write a book about his adventures with his Widgeon, but he said he will have the time when things slow down. For now, Harvey is busy running his flying service.
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It’s rare that a 14-year-old boy, putting together model jets with a buddy, gets to grow up and fly those same jets. But that’s exactly what Lt. Col. John Marks of the U. S. Air Force gets to do.
About a year before graduating from the University of Kansas, Marks went to an Air Force recruiter and said, “I want to fly airplanes!” And the recruiter told him “Yeah, yeah, you and everyone else.”
Initially, Marks was turned down by the Air Force, he said, so he pursued the Navy. A couple of days after being accepted by the Navy, Marks said the Air Force recruiter called and told him a pilot position had opened. And since he really wanted to fly a fighter airplane, and the idea of being on a ship for six months at a time “wasn’t as exciting” to Marks, he pursued the Air Force.
Maj. Raymond Laffoon, II, a retired Air Force navigator, said that Officer Training School, by itself, could take “a little more than three months” to finish. After that comes Undergraduate Pilot Training, which is “very rigorous” and can last a year for pilots. According to Laffoon, the whole process of becoming an Air Force pilot could take between two and two-and-a-half years to finish.
In 1987, Marks joined the Air Force and started his training. He was able to pick the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, or “Warthog,” for short, as his specialty. This was the same jet that he and his buddy had put together as a model.
After completing his training, Marks was then assigned to the 76th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which was a part of the 23rd Fighter Group, and was stationed in Alexandria, La.
The “Flying Tigers” was the nickname for the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941-1942. In July 1942, the 23rd Fighter Group replaced the AVG. The shark-faced fighters of this group remain among the most recognizable of any combat aircraft of World War II, although the A-10s of today do not have the shark painting.
While he was based in Louisiana, the Cold War was still going on. But the United States was not involved in any conflict at the time. So it was a shock to Marks’ unit when it was told, “You’re deploying to Kuwait.”
This was a time before 9/11, when deployments weren’t an every-day thing for the military. Nobody had heard of this “Kuwait” place. Marks said they pulled out a “big map,” and saw the “tiny little” state of Kuwait.
Before being told this, according to Marks, everyone had thought if they were deploying, it would be “World War III or the Soviets,” not the Middle East.
Marks said that “everybody was shocked” when they taxied down the runway at the King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia, a civilian airport. He hadn’t seen this kind of environment before. Marks remembered that after landing in Saudi, upon opening the canopy, there was a “wall of hot air hitting you, just like opening an oven door.” This country was “very dry and amazingly hot.”
According to Marks, a lot of the “Army guys” were in tents, but he and his unit got to stay in small trailers that made up the airport workers’ quarters. The trailers had air conditioning units in the rooms. Four men to a room. Very close quarters.
Before Desert Shield became Desert Storm, Marks and his unit stayed in Saudi Arabia for six months, flying a few missions for training, but mostly trying to find something to do to pass the time.
They didn’t have the Internet during Desert Storm, so the men had to write a lot of letters. They also built gym equipment out of stuff they had lying around. According to Marks, “The communication, and the ability to stay in touch with people, was completely different” than it is now.
Marks and his unit had six months to get to know each other before flying out to combat, so the question of trust wasn’t really there. The men flew their A-10’s in formation for a reason. They HAD to trust each other. Marks said the question that was really in the men’s minds was, “How am I going to react to this?” The generalizations that had been made about who was going to react a certain way in combat, and who was going to act the opposite, “weren’t necessarily true.” Marks said in his experience, for combat, “You can’t judge by your impression “ of people.
Marks said he can “clearly remember on the way back.” He was flying his A-10, on which he had painted the “devil woman” that was painted on the WWII fighter planes. He was on the last leg of the journey home, “feeling depressed, even angry” that what he “figured would be the biggest adventure” of his life was over. But at the same time, he was excited to return to his parents, his brother and his sister.
For Marks, the feelings that every combat deployment brings out are “hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it.” But he tried, saying that a soldier “holds two completely opposite thoughts at the same time.” They are excited about the possibility of combat, “but at the same time the self-preservation part” doesn’t want to go at all, because of all the preconceived thoughts one has.
“It’s great to be home,” Marks said, “but at the same time, you miss the excitement and adrenaline rush of combat.”
Marks was not married when he deployed for Desert Storm. But for the eight months he was deployed in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, he had a wife, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the same unit, and three kids who were very hard to leave behind. Marks also deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 and 2008 for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Hearing Marks’ boyhood story could make one wonder what a young man imagines while putting the last swipe of paint on the model A-10. Marks can remember the A-10 clearly, because he still gets to fly them. He said that he will wait until he is 60-years-old to retire, and will “try to find a way to fly one after that.”
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MINOT AIR FORCE BASE — When 1st Lt. Daniel Welch arrived at Minot Air Force Base in January, he became part of the same squadron his grandfather commanded in the 1970s.
That squadron is the 23rd Bomb Squadron, a unit of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB.
Welch, a B-52 co-pilot, is keeping up his family’s tradition as a B-52 Stratofortress flight officer.
Both his grandfather, retired Col. Don Sprague, of Sacramento, Calif., and his father, retired Lt. Col. Don Welch, of Las Vegas, were B-52 aviators.
Welch was one of the speakers Aug. 19 when the base held “Peace Persuader Day” to celebrate the arrival of the first B-52 bomber at the base 50 years ago. The day was named for that first plane. The first B-52 arrived July 16, 1961, but the ceremony was postponed until August because of the flood in Minot.
When he was asked to speak at the 50th anniversary celebration, Welch said he asked himself, “What have I done to be given this opportunity besides being born into a B-52 family of aviators?”
Since he has just begun his career as a B-52 aviator, he chose to honor his grandfather and his father by telling a few of their experiences as well as about his grandmother and mother.
Welch said his grandfather grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was commissioned by ROTC. He went to Maxwell AFB, Ala., for additional training, where he met Daniel’s grandmother, Marion.
“At the time that they met, my grandmother was an Air Force nurse. She outranked him and he had to salute her. To this day, we still give him a hard time for that,” Welch said.
Daniel’s grandfather attended pilot training in Texas. After graduation he went on to fly the F-86 Saber, the B-47 and then “the mighty B-52,” his grandson said. “He’s flown every model from the A model up to the H model.”
Sprague flew combat missions in Vietnam. As a result of one of those missions over North Vietnam, he became a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, his grandson said.
Sprague returned from Vietnam and was assigned to Minot AFB in the early 1970s “where he became the squadron commander of my current squadron, the 23rd Bomber Barons,” Welch said.
Welch said he felt it was pretty amazing when he looked through squadron history books and came across a picture of his grandfather and some of the news articles he was in while his grandfather was at the Minot base.
Sprague then was assigned to Mather AFB, Calif., where he became the wing commander. “That’s where my father walked into the picture,” Welch said.
The senior Welch had just been commissioned by ROTC. “My mother (Diane) was working at the base pool as a lifeguard. I’ve got to give my dad some credit for having the guts to date the wing commander’s daughter,” the lieutenant said.
Shortly after his parents got married, they were assigned to Guam in the early 1980s. “Sitting nuclear alert was part of the B-52 crews’ lifestyle,” Welch said. He said his father tells about the crews being at the base exchange with their families when suddenly they were notified. They would leave their families and run out the door to respond to their aircraft, not knowing if it was the real thing or a drill, Welch said. His father retired from the Air Force after 22 years.
“Growing up with my grandfather and father as role models made it pretty easy to decide that I wanted to pursue a career in aviation,” Welch said.
“I was able to realize that dream after I attended pilot training after my graduation from the Air Force Academy in 2008,” he said.
Welch was commissioned in 2008 and graduated from pilot training in December 2009. He started flying the B-52 in March 2010 at Barksdale AFB, La., and arrived at Minot AFB in January of this year.
Welch said he looks forward to the challenges and experiences that are sure to present themselves just as they presented themselves to generations before him.
But he pointed out that he would be remiss if he didn’t mention “the glue” that has held the three generations of bomber crews together: his mother.
“As a daughter she endured Christmases and holidays away with her father being deployed; as a wife she endured time without her husband,” he said.
Welch said it appears he will be deployed over the holiday season. “She’s a proud B-52 mother,” he added.
If he has a youngster someday, Welch said maybe there will be a fourth generation B-52 aircrew member.
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SHELBY — It has been 67 years since Carmen Fox flew his last bombing mission over the Third Reich.
“Our crew flew 26 missions and that was enough,” Fox said. “When we first arrived in England the number of missions per tour was 25. Later it was 30. But for most of us 26 was more than enough.”
Fox, who just turned 90, was a radio operator and sometimes gunner aboard a B-24 Liberator called “On The Ball.”
When the B-24 plane and its crew arrived at Hardwick Airfield in England they joined the 94th Bomb Group of the 328th Bomb Squadron of the 8th Air Force.
Fox said the 94th was the very first Army Air Force bomber unit to arrive in England.
“We either carried 12 500-pound bombs or four 2,000 pound bombs. Our first mission was to bomb Wilhelmshaven, near Bremen,” he said.
During the next few months, the crew flew daylight missions to Berlin twice.
“Our first raid over Berlin caused us no problems at all, coming or going. But the next group right behind us really got worked over by German fighters,” he said.
For some time, the Liberators flew without fighter escorts.
“Once they installed belly tanks on them we had fighter protection all the way,” he said.
German fighters were only part of the problem.
“There was always lots of (anti-aircraft) flak. One time when we landed our plane looked like a coffee strainer,” he said.
On Dec. 13, 1943, “On The Ball” ran into a serious problem on its way to bomb Kiel, Germany.
Fox said the plane’s number 3 engine froze, and that damaged the aircraft’s hydraulic systems. While Fox and other crewmen worked on that problem, the pilots pulled into clouds to escape a pair of German fighter planes.
Fox said the pilots and gunners knew the two fighters had split up; one above the clouds and one below. So, “On The Ball” rose up out of the clouds and caught one German fighter plane and shot it down.
Then it was time to head for home and hope that the problems with the plane’s landing gear were fixed. They were.
Of the original crew, Fox said, only one man was killed and that was in a freak accident. He said the crewman was riding a bicycle at the home base and accidentally came too close to one of the bombers.
“The propeller blade cut him in half,” Fox said.
At one point, the crew was given a 30-day pass and headed for London. Fox said another crew took over their plane; and on their first mission, they were shot down by enemy fighters.
“We got another plane and we named it ‘Naughty Nan,’ ” he said.
Some missions were sent to Norway to bomb heavy water plants that would help create atomic bombs.
“I don’t think we got them, but Norwegian partisans did,” he said.
The group also attacked German rocket sites in France.
“We might get four of them, but they (Germans) would come right back with a dozen more,” he said.
One mission took the crew to the shores of Lake Constance.
“We had our first glimpse of the snow-covered Alps,” he said.
When his last mission ended, some men volunteered for more fighting.
Fox, a Tech 7, was sent back to school to train radio operators.
Later, back in the United States, he was given a field commission as a second lieutenant and was promoted to first lieutenant before he left the Army Air Force.
After the war he graduated from The Ohio State University. He married Ellen Shaw Fox in 1946. She died in January 2006.
The couple had four sons and three daughters, including Mary Fox, deceased; Ted, Denis, Leonard, Sheila, Karen Esbenshade and Victor.
Fox worked many years for the Sealtest Milk Company and The Orrville Milk Co./Milk Marketing, Inc. at many locations around Ohio.
The family moved to Shelby in 1966 and Fox is still living on West Smiley Road near the Crawford County line.
The Fox family, which came out of Lancaster, has many service members. One of them, John Fox, Carmen’s youngest brother, was killed in action in Korea on Nov. 24, 1951. John, an infantryman, was 23 years old at the time of his death.
Carmen Fox is a member of Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Shelby and the Shelby Council of the Knights of Columbus.
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TITUSVILLE, Florida – A World War II veteran relives his wartime adventure by flying the very same airplane he once did six decades ago.
Avrid Shook flew during the war and was assigned to the China, India, Burma (CBI) Theater. He flew the famous C-46 Commando and C-47 Skytrain among many others, such as the B-25, B-17, C-124, C-119 and a fabric covered bi-plane called the Tiger Moth.
So in honor of his 91st birthday, Shook requested to be able to fly again in the first aircraft he trained on those many years ago — the Tiger Moth. On Saturday, he took to the sky from the Valiant Air Command at the Warbird Museum in Titusville.
Shook was stationed around the world including Korea and Japan. He retired in 1964 and has two children, six grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
He has been a member of the Valiant Air Command for about 5 years; often volunteering during our Open Houses to stand by our exhibits and regal visitors with stories of his exploits and experience.
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Len Hodges found his wings again.
The 89-year-old Royal Air Force veteran hadn’t flown in a Harvard Mk. IV flight trainer in 68 years. But he got his chance last week, taking a ride in the swift, yellow trainer when it visited Niagara District Airport — the same airport where he learned to fly as a Tiger Moth pilot in 1943.
As he climbed down from the wing of the plane, he was grinning from ear to ear.
The Harvard Mk. IV plane was just one piece of history brought to life as six vintage aircraft were brought out to the tarmac and shown off. They were part of the Yellow Wings initiative, a program flying coast to coast to draw attention to the history of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
The airport was once part of that plan: As the former No. 9 Elementary Flying Training School, it graduated more than 1,800 pilots during the Second World War, sending them off with the basics of flight under their belts to earn their wings at more advanced schools.
Hodges is among the surviving graduates. ”It brings back a lot of memories,” he said prior to his flight.
At St. Catharines, he said, he trained in Tiger Moths rather than the Fleet Finch aircraft typically used. He moved up to the Harvard elsewhere, finding the plane easier to handle than those he flew here.
But the challenge of learning didn’t cow him. ”I wanted to fly, and I loved it,” said Hodges, who went on to fly B-24 Liberator bombers over Southeast Asia for the Royal Air Force.
Dave Hadfield, team leader of the Yellow Wings tour, said there were bound to be a few flying aces that came out of the Niagara operation.
“St. Catharines was a big operation,” he said. “One of the World War II hangars is still here, but it was a larger operation in those days.”
He said pilots did their first 50 hours in flight here, zipping about in bright-painted planes often dubbed yellow perils. They’d move up to fly Harvards elsewhere, and finally split off to fighter or bomber school.
The Yellow Wings have stopped at many of the old schools already, he said, with more on the agenda. They started their journey in British Columbia and plan to touch down at every base involved in the Air Training Plan.
In St. Catharines, they joined in a re-dedication ceremony for a monument at the airport terminal, honouring the flight school.
Hadfield said Canada started with only a handful of airmen. He said British prime minister Winston Churchill asked the country not to send 10 pilots to war right away, but to send 10,000 in a year.
“The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was likely our largest (contribution) to victory in the Second World War,” Hadfield said. “We were the aerodrome of democracy.
“We trained over 200,000 people and we did it in an incredible hurry.”
Many were pilots from the United States and other countries.
“It was a magnificent accomplishment — never been equalled in Canadian aviation. It’s not something you read about in the history books.”
It’s a history that’s being lost, Hadfield said. He noted many Second World War veterans are old, and more and more are dying.
“That whole knowledge is disappearing, but by maintaining these aircraft and flying them we can preserve that history.”
It wasn’t just flight that brought Hodges to put down roots here, though. He’s originally from Basingstoke in the U.K. but has lived here since 1947. Here, he said, he met his wife of 64 years.
“I’m a war husband,” he said.