The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 recently posted their 2021 Westpac Deployment cruise video. The unit is part of Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11) and sails aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The Tomcatters are stationed at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA and fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet.
The 2020 cruise of the Tomcatters of VFA-31. The unit is based at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA and fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet. The Tomcatters are part of Air Wing Eleven (CVW-11) and deploy aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71.
Additionally, the VFA-31 deck crew made a video to show ops from the flight deck.
Enjoy the 2021 cruise video from the “Swordsmen” of VFA-32. The unit recently returned from a six-month deployment aboard the USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69). The unit is part of Carrier Air Wing 3 (CVW-3) and is stationed at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA flying F/A-18F Super Hornets.
After a year long hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, airshows have returned at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. June 20th and 21st was opening weekend, and thankfully the weather provided for excellent flying conditions.
The weekend airshows are what make this museum something truly unique. Each day of the weekend has a different theme to the airshow. Saturday’s theme is “History of Flight”, which showcases the museum’s aircraft throughout the full spectrum of the early years of flight. Sunday’s theme is specific to aircraft from World War I, however some of the museum’s other aircraft also fly to provide some variety.
I had previously attended the WWI shows in the past, so it was a double treat for me this trip to see the Saturday show and to be there for the opening day. The aerodrome is nestled away from the normal travel routes. The field is just visible from the road right before pulling into the parking area. As I caught a quick glimpse, I could see that many of the aircraft were outside getting prepped for flight. Instant excitement ran through my body. I was glad I made the trip, and one aircraft had yet to fly.
Rides in the New Standard D25
For those visitors that wish to feel apart of the era, a ride can be purchased in the New Standard D25.
The above photos followed a specific couple. I watched the woman while waiting for the plane and her male companion talk to her to “ease her nerves”. When they took off, you can see her covering her eyes and the “I cannot believe I am doing this look” on her face. When they land you can see the relief and smile on her face.
Show Opening: Parachutes
The official show opening was two parachute jumpers. They took off in the D25. They can be seen in the front cockpit.
Aerobatics in the Fleet Finch and Tiger Moth
The flying portion opened with aerobatics performed in the yellow Fleet Finch 16-B and the red De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth. A competition was set up to see which aircraft and pilot combination could cut a ribbon of paper tossed out of the cockpit the most number of times.
The early “Pioneer Era” aircraft display started with a replica of the 1910 Hanriot. A very complicated flying machine for the time and simply amazing to see take to the skies. The aircraft took off and obtained a height of approximately 15 feet and landed. Although it performed a limited flight, the airframe is capable of heights of over 1,000 feet!
Curtiss Pusher Model D
Another “Pioneer Era” display was performed in the Curtiss Pusher Model D. This was one of the aircraft I was very interested in seeing perform. Again, like the the Hanriot, a brief flight was demonstrated with a quick landing. This aircraft was originally designed in 1911 and shows the difference between American design theory and that of the European monoplane designs like the Hanriot.
Fokker D. VIII
The World War I era demonstration kicked off with a flight performance in the nimble Fokker D. VIII. This monoplane was developed too late in the war to make a huge impact, but the pilots that did fly it recognized the performance of this aircraft was impressive. It warned the nickname “Flying Razor”. The rotary engine seems to have just two simple settings “Full” and “Idol”. I am positive this is totally inaccurate, but from the ground it sure sounds accurate. This machine wins the award for the neatest sounding beast of the day!
Curtiss JN-4 Jenny
Perhaps no other aircraft is more synonymous with the “barn storming” era than the Jenny. The aircraft allowed fledgling flyers to learn the advanced skills needed to fly the higher performance fighters of the time. After the war, many were sold as surplus. Veteran military pilots, now without a job due to the war ending, purchased them and toured the countryside earing a few dollars thrilling a small audience at each stop. Many of the youngsters that flew and fought in World War II began dreaming of being a pilot after seeing a Jenny fly for the first time nearby their home.
During World War I, the United States was well behind in fighter aircraft design. As a result, our Army Air Force was ill equipped to fight a war. Therefore, the United States purchased and flew designs of the British and French. One such example was the Spad VII, a French design. The Spad was a large improvement over other allied flying machines and was very capable in the hands of the right pilot.
Albatros D. Va
The Albatros may be the second most widely recognizable German aircraft of World War I. Like the Spad above, the design was introduced in 1917 and showed performance increases over other designs of the time. Germany’s Manfred von Richtofen scored many victories in an Albatros.
The Spad and Albatros flew as adversaries once again over the skies of Old Rhinebeck. Here the Spad moves into a firing position behind the Albatros. I took the liberty of adding some noise (grain) to the photo along with desaturating it to make it look more time specific.
The Spirit of St. Louis
Perhaps no aviator in history has been more celebrated and revered than Charles Lindbergh. His celebrity status was instantaneously set in 1927 when he set out to cross the Atlantic Ocean during a non-stop flight from New York to Paris, France.
The weather conditions did not permit the Spirit from flying, but it did taxi around for the crowd. Before and afterwards, the crowd could look it over closely. It is amazing to look back at the elementary equipment onboard and realize that Lindbergh flew for 33 hours in that cockpit non-stop, navigated across a huge body of water and landed safely.
Comedy Routine: Escaped Convict!
While us folks were enjoying the flying machines, a convict escaped and was said to be in the area attempting to flee. Sure enough, somehow he made it to Rhinebeck and attempted to stowaway onboard the Fleet Finch. The police were in hot pursuit but unable to catch him before takeoff. The convict held onto the wing support during takeoff. Thankfully, a local citizen was able to make a crack shot and the convict returned to the ground unescorted. R.I.P.!!
It looks like he
Aerobatics in other general aviation aircraft of the era
The day’s grand finale of the day were performances by several aircraft of the “Golden Age” including the Fleet Finch, Piper Cub, Taylor Cub, De Havilland Tiger Moth, Curtiss Wright CW-1 and Fleet Model 1.
Until Next Time!!
This will not be my only visit to Old Rhinebeck in 2021. I simply wanted publish what I could to share some of the excitement I have for this great place.
I have some special plans in the works and will share more Rhinebeck adventures as they happen!
The 2016 TBM Avenger Gathering was held on April 16 at the Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru, Illinois. The event was organized by Brad Deckert, a local Avenger owner.
The gathering was developed to bring the various Avenger owners/operators together to discuss maintenance, safety and other matters involved with owning an Avenger. Practice flying was also planned, including flight demonstrations and formation flying.
The gathering of Avengers also brings together a significant group of historical warbirds in one spot. Fighters and bombers have had numerous events, but no event has really featured or celebrated the TBM Avenger quite like this.
Several of the TBMs formed up and made several nice formation passes to open the event. Several TBMs were airborne and made solo passes. What a sound to hear all of those Curtiss-Wright R-2600-20 radial engines!
Other Warbirds in Attendance
Two P-51D Mustangs were in attendance. Each Mustang did several solo passes and the two aircraft formed up for a formation break to landing.
Anthony Buechler P-51D Mustang “Petie 2nd” – N5427V
East Iowa Airshows brought their A-1 Skyraider to display and participate in the flying portion of the show. The Skyraider was designed to replace the Avenger on the American aircraft carriers. However, the aircraft was too late to see service in World War II. However, the type did see significant service in both Korea and Vietnam.
Naked Fanny is painted to represent the USAF version of the “Spad”.
Several Texans were on hand and flew solo and formation demonstrations. Several operators also offered rides. The Texan is widely known as “the pilot maker” and an argument can be made that it is the most important trainer aircraft developed to date. It has been said that the Texan is difficult to fly, it requires the pilot’s attention at all times. Once mastered, a pilot was able to handle any of the “heavy iron” in the piston fighter community.
Many other trainers were on hand as well such as a T-28 Trojan, T-34 Mentor, a PT-19 and several Stearmans (PT-17)
Several different types of acrobatic aircraft were also on hand including several Sukhoi SU-26s, a Christian Eagle, several YAK-52s and highly modified Stearman formerly of the Red Baron Pizza Squadron.
T-33 Shooting Stars
Two beautifully restored T-33 Shooting Stars were on hand. Mig-Alley Airshows brought their Canadair CT-133 Shooting Star. The aircraft has an authentic RCAF camo scheme. The second T-33 is operated by Whirpool Inc and is also a CT-133. The aircraft is painted in the livery of the Texas Air National Guard. Both are beautiful aircraft.
Also on hand was a L-39 Albatross
Fly-in events are always special because you never really know what will show up. This event was no different, with several surprise arrivals.
Around the field…
This event was nothing short of spectacular. The atmosphere and excitement surrounding the display were amazing. If I had to sum up why the event was special in one image, it would be this one:
The intimacy was what was special to me. The ability to see history up close and to be able to hear the machines tingle and pop while running or cooling down is just something you do not get at a museum…or most normal airshows. The diverse blend of people and aircraft was also such a fresh feeling. I am thankful that I decided to get up early and head over to Peru. I’ll definitely be back to support this event if it continues.
On May 27, 2021, the Connecticut Air & Space Museum held a ribbon cutting ceremony to announce their Blue Hangar grand opening. Since 1998, the Connecticut Air & Space Museum was located at the nearby Stratford Army Engine Plant. The Army Engine Plant was formerly owned by the Chance-Vought Company, the primary manufacturer of historic aircraft such as the F4U Corsair and OS2U Kingfisher. The area was also originally home to Sikorsky and numerous seaplanes were built there along with early development of the helicopter was conducted on the historic airfield. Although the Army Engine Plant has strong historical roots, the space was not ideal for a public museum since age restrictions prohibited visitors younger than 18-years of age. The new museum location will allow for visitors of all ages to attend, greatly enhancing the museum’s outreach.
In 2015, the Museum was able to obtain a 98-year lease of the two hangars formerly occupied by the Curtiss Flight School. Founded by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, the Curtiss Flight School taught people how to fly and was in direct competition with the Wright Brothers. A hurricane in the area and eventually World War II ended the flight school’s tenure. After several years of fund raising and hard work, the restoration of the “Blue Hangar” is mostly completed and is now ready to be occupied.
For the time being, the Blue Hangar will house the gift shop and some of the display cases as well as the FG-1 Corsair, currently under restoration. Several completely restored helicopters will also be placed into the Blue Hangar, which include the OH-6 Cayuse and Sikorsky S-52 / Ho5S.
The museum’s goal is to eventually restore the larger hangar, and it will serve as the museum’s annex and display area for other restored aircraft or those currently under restoration.
The Museum’s formal grand opening is scheduled for May 29-30, 2021 and is located at 225B Main Street in Stratford (next door to the Windsock Restaurant). Formal information can be found at the Connecticut Air & Space Museum’s website.
Enjoy the 2020-2021 Cruise Video from VFA-137 Kestrels. The Kestrels are based at NAS Lemoore and fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet. VFA-137 is part of Carrier Air Wing 17. When deployed, Carrier Air Wing 17 currently sails on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
A short video, but provides some fantastic footage!
On May 2, 2021, the New England Air Museum held an invitation only event to unveil the plans for their future exhibit titled “The Kościuszko Squadron : Defenders of Freedom”. The museum’s newest exhibit is designed to honor the heroism of the Kościuszko Squadron and the Polish 303 Squadron of the RAF.
The Kościuszko Squadron was originally formed in 1919 shortly after Poland regained their independence after World War One. The squadron consisted of American pilots recruited to help the Polish during the Russian-Polish War. During World War Two, Poland was invaded by Germany in the early stages of the war. In the spirit of the early Kościuszko Squadron, many of the Polish pilots that managed to escape capture fled to England. The RAF formed the 303 Squadron with these pilots. The unit served with great distinction during the Battle of Britain and is credited with the most aerial victories during the battle.
The New England Air Museum (NEAM) has partnered with Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) to develop the exhibit. CCSU is well qualified for such a task. CCSU has an internationally acclaimed Polish Studies Program and is leading the informational development of the exhibit.
The exhibit will be permanently displayed at the New England Air Museum (NEAM) in freshly renovated space leading to the civilian hangar of the NEAM display floor. The proposed location is ideal for a large display and a high volume of foot traffic is expected.
The current plans indicate a number of different multi-media exhibits to showcase a number of different artifacts and photos. Several items on early display include a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and several Polish military uniforms. Plans also include additional photos, various plastic model aircraft and other artifacts. Donations are still being accepted, which means the final display items are still being determined. No doubt that these items will produce a world class exhibit once the time to display them is upon us.
The full Kościuszko Squadron exhibit is scheduled for full public display on November 11, 2021 but may vary depending on financial ability and nature of the artifacts available.
After the event, Ron Katz sent the following in an email. “As you heard in my appeal last night, we seriously need your help to complete this exhibit. If this subject is important to you, if you believe that the heroism of the Kosciuszko Squadron has been hidden for too long, then please make your donation today. If you have already made a donation we sincerely thank you for your support. If not, you can make a donation securely online at https://ccsu.networkforgood.com/causes/17039-the-kosciuszko-squadron. All gifts are very much appreciated. For your gift of $1,000 or more you will be permanently recognized in the exhibit space, and will receive one of our special commemorative Kosciuszko Squadron coins. A list of benefits for all donation levels is attached.
If you wish to support the project but prefer not to make a donation online, you can send a check payable to the CCSU Foundation, and mail it to PO Box 612, New Britain, CT 06050-0612 and make a notation: “For the Kosciuszko Squadron.””
Other Special Guests
The United States has always had strong ties to Poland. Even today, Poland is considered one of America’s strongest allies. The large Polish population in the New England area makes logical sense for a display such as this. The proposed NEAM exhibit will be larger than a similar display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Presentation of Exhibit Design Guests
This is a brief glimpse of the exciting things planned for this exhibit. Based on this small sneak peak, I am eager to see the final results in a few short months.
The image above is the US Navy’s Legacy Flight from the 2017 Cleveland National Air Show. CAF Dixie Wing’s FG-1D Corsair leads a F/A-18F Super Hornet from VFA-106 Gladiators. Traditionally, this is always a highlight of an airshow for me when a warbird flies formation with a current military aircraft. I was exhilarated at the time since the combination of a Corsair and Super Hornet was something I rarely witnessed – along with the fact that two of my favorite aircraft were together. What I failed to recognize when I took this image is the history it captures. At the time, this photo represented the US Navy’s first strike-fighter, the Corsair, and their current strike-fighter, the Super Hornet.
What is a strike-fighter? Some official definition may exist, but the general idea is that a strike-fighter is an aircraft primarily designed for fighting other aircraft in air-to-air combat but also has the ability to deliver air-to-ground ordinance such as bombs, rockets or other munitions when needed.
The genesis of the strike-fighter idea was born out of boredom and necessity. The VF-17 “Jolly Rogers” were a land based F4U Corsair unit deployed to the Solomon Islands. The Jolly Rogers led by Lt. Commander Tom Blackburn along with sister USMC F4U squadrons, RNZAF P-40s and USAAF P-38s eliminated the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy aircraft. The Japanese realized the Solomon Islands were lost and pulled what remained of the air fleet back to defend mainland Japan. With no aerial opposition, the fighter sweeps became hours of boredom for the fighter pilots. However, the ground battle still was long from over. Since a fighter plane escort of bomber aircraft was no longer required, Blackburn along with other members of VF-17 came up with a plan…carry a bomb and help the guys on the ground.
At the time, this was a radical idea. Aircraft were designed for a specific purpose – fighter, dive-bomber, torpedo and bomber. The aircraft did not have wiring for wing or fuselage mounted ordinance. Work was initiated and a rough bomb rack and cockpit wiring were installed. After a few modifications, a bomb rack that could safely carry and deliver a bomb was complete. Blackburn sold the idea to his superiors and the idea was tested out operationally.
This innovation and idea was eventually approved for all Corsair units. Engineering from the original VF-17 design was modified and incorporated into manufacturing at Chance-Vought and Goodyear. These modifications included permanent wing and fuselage wiring to allow external ordinance.
Ultimately, that decision to allow a fighter to carry bombs has permanently changed Naval Aviation. In the immediate future, F6F Hellcats were modified to carry bombs and rockets similar to the F4U-1/FG-1 Corsairs. Nearly every Navy/USMC fighter aircraft since has the ability to deliver air-to-ground ordinance.
The fleet is now beginning to deploy the F-35C along with the USMC F-35B, the next generation of strike-fighters. The F/A-18 and F-35 will continue the strike-fighter duties for the next several decades.
Only about 45 years separate the Corsair and Super Hornet.
Feature photo by “Gregory Oh” from the VAQ-139 FB page.
Enjoy the 2020-2021 cruise video from VAQ-139 Cougars. The Cougars are based at NAS Whidbey Island, and fly the F/A-18G Growler. VAQ-139 is part of Carrier Air Wing 17 and deploy aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).