Tag Archives: vintage airplanes

2022 Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Season: Part 2 – World War I shows

Below is my coverage of the World War I portion of the 2022 Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s Sunday airshows.

The lineup fluctuated throughout the 2022 performance season. Several of the regularly performing machines had maintenance issues pop up, and the Pup was sent to a special performance at another museum, which required several weeks of preparation on each side of the performance. However, the daily lineup was still stacked, and the fleet received an additional aircraft with the arrival of the Brisfit.

The famous eyes and mustache of the Black Baron’s Tri-Plane.

Sopwith Pup

Manufactured by the British, the Sopwith Pup was a formidable fighter aircraft when introduced in 2016. However, the Germans were also developing aircraft and the Pup was outclassed as soon as 1917.

Rhinebeck’s replica Pup was built in 1967 by Dick King, and flown for 21 seasons. It was sold to another New England Museum, which flew it for a number of years. In 2018, it was returned after a 10-year effort by current airshow performer, Brian Coughlin. Brian took on the task of getting the machine restored and flight worthy. The Pup returned to the skies in the fall of 2019.

Fokker D.VIII

Introduced in 1918, the D.VIII was both fast and nimble, characteristics that are strongly desired for a fighter aircraft. It earned the unofficial nickname “Flying Razor.” However, the design too late to make any major impact on the WWI air war.

The model flying regularly at the WWI shows is owned and operated by Brian Coughlin. Brian built the replica in 1994, and it is powered by a Gnome rotary-engine. The aircraft likely has the most distinctive sound of any of the current aircraft flying at the Aerodrome.

Brian is an extremely passionate and dedicated individual to the Aerodrome. He is very generous with his time after the shows, usually standing near the D.VIII, and is an absolute encyclopedia of WW I aviation knowledge.

Brian talking about the rotary engine that powers the D.VIII. Note all the castor oil on the cowling.

Bristol F.2B Brisfit

The Brisfit is one of the new aircraft for the 2022 season. The aircraft has a crew of two, a pilot and rear facing gunner. The design was introduced in 1917 and remained in production until 1926.

The Aerodrome’s version is a reproduction, having been built in the early 198os for a movie roll. After several movies, it was placed into mothballs until recently. Chris Prevost donated the aircraft to Old Rhinebeck and it was restored to flight in early 2022. The paint livery is  ‘B’ flight of No. 2 Squadron RAF serving in England in the post WW I era between 1924-1928. What an excellent addition!

The Wedding of Trudy Trulove and Sir Percy

These two love birds are fortunate to have a happy ending to their story. Percy is very fond of the lovely Trudy, but so is the notorious Black Baron. In fact, the Black Baron kidnapped Trudy to prevent her from marrying Sir Percy. She escaped and stowed away on the JN-4 Jenny. Somehow she jumped off the wing and survived the fall. The last photo shows the happy couple after their vows!

Albatros D.Va

The Albatros D.Va is one of the most successful of the German designs of the first World War. The famous Red Baron himself, Manfred Von Richthofen, scored many of his victories in the type.

Rhinebeck’s Albatros is a reproduction built in 1975. In 2013, the aircraft was refinished in the current livery, which represents the aircraft of Hans Böhning of Jagdstaffel 36 / Jagdstaffel 76. This is probably my favorite of the German aircraft in the collection.


The SPAD’s markings represent the aircraft of Lt. George Turnure of Lenox, MA, who was credited with three confirmed kills. The aircraft is a reproduction, and was built in 2000. The SPAD was a well performing aircraft for the time period.

Fokker DR.1

The DR.1 is arguably the most recognizable aircraft of WW I. Whether it was the Red Baron, or if it is attributable to Snoopy’s aerial battles in the Peanut’s comic strip cemented the legend, but the Triplane is very well known. The Red Baron was downed and lost his life while flying a DR.1.

The pesky Black Baron

Mr. Palen purchased the aircraft in 1987, and it has been a regular performer ever since, minus the required down time for various maintenance rotations.

The Aerial Dogfight

The climax of the Saturday show is the dogfight between Sir Percy and the Black Baron. Its always fun to see the planes doing what they were designed to do, even if it is scripted out.

The “Cast” – 2022

That’s a wrap on the 2022 Aerodrome season!

2022 Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Season: Part 1 – The History of Flight shows

This year, I am going to provide highlights from the entire 2022 season at Old Rhinebeck rather than do coverage for each individual show I attended.

This season was exciting with the addition of two new aircraft to the lineup, Several of the airframes that had been in rotation for a number of years were down awaiting overhauls or major maintenance, but you would never know it with the large volume of aircraft that fly each weekend.

The weekend themes remained unchanged for 2022, with the Saturday shows being “History of Flight” and Sunday’s “World War I”.

Old Rhinebeck is not all airplanes, they also have a large collection of vintage antique vehicles.

The History of Flight

The “History of Flight” shows covers three spans of time: The Pioneer Era (1896-1913), World War I Era (1914-1918) and the Golden Era (1919-1940).

The Pioneer Era spans the time of early aviation while the Golden Era shows the rapid develop of aviation up to the point of World War II. Since World War I has an independent show, I will cover the aircraft of the other two eras in this post.

The “lineup” on a Saturday morning as the staff get prepared for the day’s flights.

De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth

One of the mainstays of the Aerodrome shows, the Tiger Moth along with another aircraft usually open the show with a ribbon cutting. The Tiger Moth was used by the British RAF and commonwealth allies as a primary trainer, and is an iconic biplane. It is very maneuverable and is an excellent airshow performer.

The Tiger Moth is owned and operated by the King family, longtime performers at the Aerodrome. Dave King is the usual pilot and also performs in several other aircraft, including the Triplane and Albatros.

Curtiss Pusher Model D

Likely my favorite aircraft of this era is the Pusher. The aircraft is a 1911 design, with this specific example being a replica built in 1976. The aircraft features a steering wheel style control yolk and requires a great deal of finesse to fly it safely. Matt Heuer usually pilots the aircraft and is a fun conversation to discuss flying the machine.

Etrich Taube – Model F

This aircraft is a new addition to the fleet for 2022. Designed by Austrian, Igo Etrich, in 1912, the Taube (Dove) was a very popular design for the time period. Several nations including Germany, Italy and the Austro-Hungarians used the aircraft in various duties. The type is believed to be the first aircraft used as a light-bomber.

The Aerodrome acquired the replica aircraft in early 2022 as a donation from the builder, Mike Fithian-Eyb. He desired to built the aircraft after he discovered that his grandfather had piloted the type back in 1912.

Curtiss JN-4H Jenny

Arguably one of the most iconic early American aircraft built, the Jenny is synonymous with the term “Barnstorming.” After WWI, the surplus aircraft were purchased at minimal cost, and the returning war pilots, now unemployed, purchased them and toured America. Many of these Barnstormers brought their planes into communities that had never experienced aircraft or flight. Many a Jenny inspired the dream of flight for men and women of the era.

Cole Palen, the founder of Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, purchased the aircraft after a wreck in 1957. It was shipped to him in train cars and advertised as a standard JN-4. After the parts started coming out of the rail cars, it was determined that the aircraft was a -4H model, with a much stronger Hispano Souza motor, which increased the motor’s horsepower to 180. After performing for the Aerodrome from 1968-1998, the aircraft was fully restored in 2001 by Ken Kassens, who frequently pilots the aircraft each weekend.

The Jenny’s prop is a mechanical piece of art

Fleet Finch 16-B

Besides the New Standard, the Finch is likely the “workhorse” of the Aerodrome aircraft fleet. It performs many duties during the weekend shows. It is believed that this is the first aircraft to land at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. This Finch was built in 1942 and is one of 447 built. The type was used extensively by the Royal Canadian Aircraft as a training aircraft during World War II.

Mr. Palen purchased the aircraft in 1957, and later sold it. Another Finch was purchased and used for a number of years. When the new Finch was retired, the owner of the original was willing to sell it back to the Aerodrome in 2017.

The Wrong Brothers

The ORA community is fortunate to have innovative aviation minds nearby. Sadly, we did not get to see history in the making when the Wrong Brothers attempted their rocket powered experiments. The rocket jet pack appears to be the most likely to succeed based on the latest attempts.

Maybe one day we can say “I was there when…”

Boeing Stearman N2S-5

The other “big, yellow biplane” frequently seen at the Aerodrome is the Stearman. This version is the N2S-5, which is the US Navy’s designation of the popular “Stearman.” The Army gave it the designation PT-13 or PT-17, based on the engine used. For many an allied World War II pilot, the Stearman was the primary training aircraft that introduced them to flight. An icon in the aviation world.

This aircraft served at NAS Memphis and is owned and operated by Aerodrome pilot, Rob Williams.

New Standard D-25

The New Standard is an important aircraft to the Aerodrome. It is the aircraft used to provide rides throughout the season and is a way for the museum to earn extra funds. The red and black beauty is seen taking off and landing the entire weekend, and is the ultimate way to experience Old Rhinebeck.

The D-25 returning after an afternoon flight in October. What a way to see the New England fall colors!

Curtiss Wright CW-1 Junior

The Junior is a depression era design by Curtiss Wright, which was intended to be an affordable light aircraft option. The aircraft has a “pusher” design, placing the motor and propeller behind the pilot and passenger.

This aircraft is owned and operated by Aerodrome pilot, Brian Coughlin.

The Escaped Prisoner

One of the airshows was interrupted by the local authorities. An escaped “convict” had been seen in the area. He appears to have hidden at the end of the runway and stowed away on the Fleet 16. Thankfully, Sherriff Stew Sommerville was around and was able to blast him off the aircraft. Somehow, the Convict survived the fall and was apprehended unharmed. He was then taken back into custody and has since resumed prison life.

Great Lakes Sport Trainer

The Sport Trainer is a highly aerobatic aircraft designed in the 1930s. It was popular with the pilots and had great potential. However, the Great Lakes company went bankrupt during the Great Depression.

The Great Lakes is owned and operated by Matt Heuer. Matt flies a ribbon cutting, as well as a 1930s era aerobatic performance with the aircraft. Like the Tiger Moth, the Great Lakes is a very maneuverable and fun to watch.

Taylor E-2 Cub

The “Cub” is another iconic civilian aircraft. This is the original example of the Cub. The design has been modified over the years, and is still being built by homebuilders. The example owned and operated by Ken Cassens, and is an original aircraft.

J-3 Cub

This is the updated version of the original Cub design above. The J-3 variant of the Cub design would likely be on the Mount Rushmore of civilian sport aircraft if there was such a thing. Its versatility makes it popular to this day.

Fleet Model 1

Another sport biplane designed by Fleet. This is a 1930 version, and is an original aircraft. The markings replicate those of a Navy N2Y-1 version, designed to be attached to an airship (blimp) in the 1930s.

The Fleet is owned and operated by Dr. David Trost. Previously, the Fleet made appearances over the years being piloted by Richard Coughlin, father of current aerodrome pilot, Brian Coughlin. More on Brian in Part II. I have developed a good friendship with David over the last two seasons and look forward to getting to know the other pilots as the opportunity arises.

The Neighboring Farmer

The Aerodrome has been around since the late 1950s. However, over the years the neighboring farmer has yet to figure out that the weekends are full of activity, with the runway area being extremely dangerous. One day, he took matters into his own hands after getting drunk. He drove the tractor out to the J-4 Cub and stole the aircraft! Look at the absolute fear on his face trying to bring it back down for a landing.


The Pants Race

Usually, the Saturday shows conclude with the “pants race”. A handful of the pilots remove their pants and race from a stopped start, take off, make several orbits around the airfield and then land. The first pilot to land and get their pants back on is the winner.

Here Dr. Dave hops into the J-4 to participate in the race!

Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome – WWI Air Show 2019

In the small town of Red Hook, New York lies one of America’s true aviation treasures, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Founded by Cole Palen in 1958, the museum sought to preserve the flying history of the Pioneer (1900 -1913), WWI (1914 – 1918) and the Golden Age of Aviation (1919 – 1940). Mr. Palen ended up creating the first museum of flying antique aircraft in the United States.

What started out as six WWI aircraft has turned into a collection of over 60 aircraft, some originals and some replicas, spanning the years from 1900-1940. In addition to their collection of flying aircraft, the museum has a number of artifacts, static display aircraft, antique automobiles and motorcycles. They are even restoring a WWI era tank.

Each weekend from mid-June through October the Aerodrome comes alive with two distinct airshows. Saturday shows focus on the “History of Flight” while the Sunday shows focus on the WWI era aircraft.

I attended the WWI show on September 15, 2019.

Stepping back in time…

Once you park and cross the street, you enter into the Aerodrome area. You pay for your admission and the fun begins. The Aerodrome is set up like a small airfield in the early days of flight. Hangars of various size are placed around the field. These hangars house the museum’s flying aircraft. Usually the vacant hangars have their aircraft on the field for the day’s flight. The hangars with aircraft inside are usually from the opposite day’s show, but are open for your visual inspection. The restoration area is a fun place to go to have a look. The hanagars also have a theme to them, the early era flight companies like Curtiss, Fokker and Ryan Flying Company for example.

The flying aircraft are usually towed out first and placed on the flight line. After those machines are out, the vintage automobiles and motorcycles are brought out for a little ride around the field. After you get through looking into the hangars, the announcement is made that the show is about to start.

The Show Opens…

The Air Show begins in traditional barnstorming fashion…some fancy stick work resulting in some razzle and dazzle of the aircraft. This time was the De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth, an original aircraft and built in 1934.

The aircraft takes off and climbs up a few hundred feet. Then at show center, a roll of toilet paper is thrown overboard. The goal is for the aircraft to cut the paper ribbon numerous times before getting too low to the ground to be safe. This shows just how nimble the aircraft is and the skill set of the pilot.

After the Tiger Moth came down, a second aircraft went up to beat the previous pilot’s TP Banner score. This show, the second aircraft was the 1942 Fleet Finch 16-B, another of the museum’s aircraft that is an original version. Sadly, I did not make note of which aircraft was more successful.

A Brief Glimpse into Aircraft Development: 1910 Hanriot

Although the theme of the Sunday show is WWI, the museum brings out their 1910 Hanriot (a reproduction) to show just how fast the airplane developed in the short span of time.

The aircraft looks fragile and dangerous, and it turns out to be true. Take a close look and you see the infancy of aircraft design and the lack of pilot safety features. The plane taxied by for a close look, then lined up for take off. The plane did indeed get airborne, but only to an altitude of about 10-15 feet. Although capable of higher flight, safety is paramount and simply to show it is indeed capable of flying.

The Fokkers: D.VII and D.VIII

The collection of WWI aircraft come out shortly after the aerobatics. This visit brought out the Fokker D.VII biplane and the improved D.VIII monoplane. Both aircraft came into service with the German Air Force in 1918.

The D.VII came into service in April, 1918 and was vastly underestimated as an adversary due to the square look and thick wings. The aircraft quickly became respected and earned the reputation as a serious fighter aircraft. It turned out to be fast and highly maneuverable, both important attributes in a fighter aircraft. Herman Goring, the head of the German Luftwaffe in WWII, flew the type and claimed many of his victories in the D.7. The aircraft was so respected at the end of WW I that the Armistice Treaty included a provision that all of the remaining D.VII airframes be turned over to the Allies.

The D.VIII monoplane came into service in July, 1918. It was nicknamed the “Flying Razor” by allied pilots. The aircraft had a number of issues early on in development, but eventually became known as an agile aircraft and easy to handle. The type has the place in history as the last type to score an aerial victory in WWI. The D.8 has a truly unique sound due to the rotary engine powering it.

The Sopwith Scout

I was pleasantly surprised to see this aircraft on the flight line when I arrived. The aircraft was still being restored during my previous visits. The official name of the aircraft is listed above, but it is more commonly known as the “Pup”. The type entered service in 1916 and was considered a good airplane to fly, but not an exceptional fighter design. It was outclassed by the larger and more powerful German aircraft.


The SPAD VII came into service in late 1916 and early 1917. It was hoped to be the aircraft to end the dominance of the German Albatross over the skies of the battlefront. The type was replacing the nimble and popular Nieuport 11 and Nieuport 16 designs. However, German designs were also rapidly improving. The Spad 7 held the aerial lines and gave the pilots time to develop new tactics with the heavier and more structurally sound airframe. The type was later replaced by the Spad 8 on the front lines. However, the type was well respected and used as a trainer by various countries for many years after the war.

The Fokker Dr.1 and the Black Baron

Likely the most recognized aircraft of WWI is the Fokker Dr. 1 triplane and is synonymous with the German Ace, Manfred Von Richthofen. The type entered service in 1917 and was considerably more maneuverable than existing German designs at the time and was well armed.

Playing the part, the Baron of the Aerodrome is the Black Baron.

The Showdown…

The Black Baron challenged Sir Percy to an aerial duel for the right to the hand of the lovely maiden, Trudy Truelove. The Baron chose the Fokker Dr.1 while Sir Percy chose the Sopwith. In the end, Sir Percy prevailed and married his lady.

The Cast

Take a flight!

Not only do you get to see history while at the Aerodrome, you can also experience history first hand. Prior to the formal air show, and for a short time after, you can purchase a flight aboard the Museum’s 1929 New Standard D-25. The aircraft has seating for up to four passengers and the flight lasts for about 15 minutes.

Around the Aerodrome

The field is full of fun things to look at and enjoy. The day passes quickly, too quickly for my tastes. The day is so action packed that all of sudden the sun is getting low and it is time to go.

If you have never had the chance to experience this fantastic place, you should make a point to visit. The atmosphere is fun and inviting with an equally friendly staff. It is an affordable and entertaining family event. Some times the aircraft lineup changes due to maintenance or other reason. You just never know what exactly will be in the air that day. And that is part of the fun.

I only briefly described the air show and the contents. This time I focused on the aircraft primarily. There is so much more for you to see and do. Come out and see it for yourself!

Next time I plan to see the History of Flight show to change things up. I cannot wait till that day! I will probably enjoy it so much that I may just have to go back the next day!

2019 National Warplane Museum Airshow – “The Greatest Show on Turf”

The 2019 National Warplane Museum Airshow took place on July 12 – 14th and brought in a nice selection of warbird aircraft . Featured performers included the USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II demo, Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team and the Alabama Boys comedy routine by the talented Greg Koontz.

B-17 Flying Fortress “Movie Memphis Belle”

The National Warplane Museum leased the B-17 Flying Fortress “Movie Memphis Belle” to take to events and for riders to purchase flight experiences. She is a replica copy of the first 8th AF Bomber crew to complete their tour of 25 missions. The aircraft starred in the movie “The Memphis Belle” and has been a huge hit on the airshow scene for a number of years. She looks “rough” but that is part of her appeal. She looks like a B-17 used almost daily during the 8th AF bombing campaign. The Movie Belle is nearly a visual replica of the original, but there are two main differences. Can you spot the differences? If so, drop me a note…I know ’em!

Canadian Harvard Formation Team

The Canadian Harvard Formation Team performed their routine. Looking as sharp as ever, the yellow Harvard aircraft put on a routine that is impressive considering how demanding the aircraft is to fly. Pilots always said that if you can handle a Harvard (Texan in America), you can handle any of the fighter aircraft of the era.

C-47 Skytrains / C-53 Skytrooper

The National Warplane Museum’s own C-47 “Whiskey 7” led a handful of C-47s and a C-53 in a tribute to the 75th Anniversary of the D-day Invasion. Several of the aircraft were on the return leg of their trip back from recent festivities at Normandy Beach in France. Several on display were nice to see and a total surprise to see them.

B-25 Mitchells “Champaign Gal” and “Miss Hap”

Two B-25s were in attendance, “Champaign Gal” from the Champaign Aviation Museum and “Miss Hap” from the American Airpower Museum. Miss Hap was the fourth B-25 off of the assembly line and is the oldest surviving B-25. Another notable is that the airframe was the personal transport of General Hap Arnold.

P-40 Warhawk “American Dream”

The TP-40N Warhawk “American Dream” from Warbird Adventures was the lone P-40 present. The P-40 has a strong history in the western New York area since they were designed and built by Curtiss-Wright, with the factory located in Buffalo, NY. “American Dream” has been modified with dual controls, which allows for a passenger and the ability for the passenger to pilot the aircraft. This configuration is extremely rare and is the only commercially available P-40 for dual instruction.

F4U/FG-1D Corsair “GodSpeed”

Goodyear built Corsair “GodSpeed” is painted in tribute to Marine Aviator, John Glenn. Charlie Lynch was at the controls both days and performed an excellent aerobatic demonstration of the Corsair’s abilities.

P-40 & Corsair Formation

Charlie Lynch and Thom Richards joined up for several fantastic photo passes in the P-40 & Corsair.

P-51 Mustangs “Swamp Fox” and “Mad Max”

Two P-51 Mustangs were on hand for Geneseo 2019. P-51D “Swamp Fox” owned and operated by RT Dickson and TF-51D “Mad Max” owned and operated by Louis Horschel.

Around the field

If you have never experienced the Geneseo show, it is a must for Warbird enthusiasts and is an amazing experience. To see aircraft on the grass as they would have been in the 1930s and 1940s is just special. Geneseo also seems to be full of surprises and acts you would not expect at a Warbird show. Pictured below are a Beech Staggerwing, TBM Avenger, Stearman, A-10C from the USAF A-10 Demo Team, and the ever entertaining Greg Koontz.

Thanks for a great time Geneseo, hopefully see you in 2020!

2019 Thunder Over Michigan

The 2019 Thunder Over Michigan Airshow took place on August 3-4, 2019 at the Willow Run Airport and hosted by the Yankee Air Museum. This year’s theme was “Corsair Crazy” and was billed as the largest gathering of Corsairs since active duty use of the aircraft in Korea.

Many of my colleagues and friends were skeptical of the show. Sadly, several years were disappointing due to poor weather or mechanical issues that prevented attendance of some of the featured aircraft. However, 2019 was NOT that year. The weather was good and the Corsairs showed up to perform! The magic sound of the mighty Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines flooded our ears and the blue “bent wing birds” thrilled our eyes. In total, 11 Corsairs of different varieties appeared. Only several cancelled due to maintenance and/or landing mishaps prior to the event. Still, having eleven machines in one spot was simply amazing and a sight to behold. And that does not include the other “heavy iron” brought in for the show!

Corsairs on the ground…

10 of the 11 Corsairs in attendance run up prior to the aerial display on Sunday

Corsair photo passes…

Corsair flat passes…

Corsair landing passes…


One of the fun things about Thunder Over Michigan is the abundance of reenactors and pinups that play along and let people to photograph them. Two of my favorites returned for 2019, Miss Blonde Ambition, and Miss Yankee Belle. Check out their Instagram pages for more shots!

P-51 Mustangs

A handful of P-51 Mustangs attended and several flew over the weekend. Merlin music to the ears!

B-25 Mitchells

Several B-25 Mitchells attended, including Yankee Air Museum’s own B-25, “Yankee Warrior” and “Georgie’s Gal” owned by the Liberty Aviation Museum.

The Class of ’45

The Class of ’45 demo is flown by Scott Yoak and Jim Tobul. Scott flies the P-51D Mustang “Quick Silver” and Jim Tobul flies the F4U-4 Corsair “Korean War Hero”. Arguably, these two aircraft are the most popular American fighter airframes from WWII and are subject to endless debates over which was superior. It is incredible to see these icons in the air and in their element.

Interestingly, the pilots both have a similar experience – restoring their aircraft with their fathers. Jim restored the F4U with his father Joe and the airframe is a combat veteran with over 200 missions over Korea. Scott restored his Mustang with his father Bill, and is an airframe made up of parts from over 200 other Mustangs. Full details of the aircraft are on their website: Class of ’45.

The demo includes solo aerobatics in each aircraft and wonderfully close and low photo passes. Then the two join and make several tight photo passes. The finale includes a show center crossover maneuver that is similar to those of the military jet teams.

Military Heavy Iron

Although primarily a warbird show, Thunder Over Michigan also usually produces an abundance of interest from the military. This year was no exception. The USAF sent the F-16 Viper demo team which tore up the skies. The RCAF brought the CC-130 Hercules for a demo and several F-15E Eagles came from Mountain Home AFB in Montana. The F-15 crews were both all female. Those ladies were enjoying their time in the air and provided some nice burner and vapes! I certainly miss the F-15 and F-15E demo teams. The Air Force also brought four AT-6 Texan IIs and they did several wonderful formation passes. The German Luftwaffe also participated again, sending an A400M Atlas cargo plane to participate in the static display.

Sunday we were treated to the departure of two F/A-18-G Growlers and the CH-47 Chinook from the Michigan Army National Guard.

Thunder Over Michigan was fun and enjoyed by my friends and family. I am eager to see what 2020 brings. Check out the Yankee Air Museum for details about the museum, purchasing rides on one of their aircraft and the Thunder Over Michigan Airshow.

A special thanks goes out to the Thunder Over Michigan team for their hard word on this show, and especially to Yankee Air Museum’s Executive Director, Kevin Walsh, for the hospitality and support of my photojournalism work.


NAS Lemoore opened its doors to the public September 21-22, 2019 for their first airshow since 2011. This was my first time out to NAS Lemoore and the base was nothing like I expected – especially for a Navy base. The base is located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, and is a huge complex. The base is so large that it has two separate areas. One is the command portion, and the other is the operations section. Unlike the other military bases I have been to, there is no surrounding city. The base is actually in the middle of farm land, literally in the middle of nowhere. NAS Lemoore and “Nowhere” turned out to be an oasis of excitement and an excellent experience.

The show was headlined by the Navy’s Blue Angels and also included performances by the Patriot Jet Team, demos by the F-15 Eagle and F-35C Lightning II, a tactical demonstration by aircraft of the fleet, civilian warbird performances by Skyhawk 518, Greg Colyer in his T-33 “Ace Maker” and CAF SoCal Wing brought their F6F Hellcat, P-51 Mustang, F8F Bearcat, Zero and PBJ-1J Mitchell. The static display was full of aircraft from the base’s squadrons except VFA-25 and VFA-86, which were deployed. The fleet’s newest aircraft, the F-35C Lightning II, was on display both in the air and on static display with aircraft from VFA-125 and VFA-147.


The fleet air power demo included aircraft from VFA-2 Bounty Hunters, VFA-151 Vigilantes, VFA-14 Top Hatters, VFA-125 Rough Raiders (Saturday only) and VFA-147 Argonauts (Sunday only).


The Navy surprised the crowd with the first public F-35C Lightning II demo. Although not officially a formal demonstration yet, the routine used is the prototype for the 2020 airshow season which is rumored to be the first official year of the Navy’s F-35C Demo Team. The aircraft is powerful and the display was very aggressive with numerous afterburner passes and high-g turns. The F-35 certainly has to be the loudest jet currently flying. No complaints from me though. I love the sound of Freedom’s Thunder.


Commemorative Air Force – SoCal Wing brought several of their warbirds to NAS Lemoore for display and participation in the flying portion of the show. The aircraft included the F6F Hellcat, F8F Bearcat, P-51 Mustang, A6M Zero and PBJ Mitchell. The aircraft flew multiple passes, including solos and several different formations. A top notch collection showcased by pilots that know how to show them off.


The Navy’s Legacy Flight was performed by two F/A-18 Super Hornets from VFA-122 Flying Eagles and Rich Sugden flying his FJ-4B Fury. The Fury is the only flying example of the type. The aircraft was damaged after a wheels up landing several weeks later and will require a lengthy repair period.


Perhaps the biggest surprise was the F-15 Eagle demo flown on Saturday. California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing presented their specially marked F-15 for the occasion. The paint scheme is a celebration of the unit’s 75th Anniversary. It was AWESOME to see and hear the mighty F-15 again. Once a staple of the US airshow circuit, seeing an F-15 is becoming extremely rare and almost non-existent in the air.


This was the first time I saw the Patriot Jet Team and was extremely surprised at how much I enjoyed their demo. The team is made up of former USAF Thunderbirds and USN Blue Angels pilots. Accordingly, I expected a show similar to the military teams. However, the show was more like a performance by the European military jet teams and included colored smoke. The flight performances were well executed and had an equally well done narration. I am now a huge fan of the Patriot Jet Team!


What can I write that has not already been said a million times prior about the Blue Angels? Nothing…so check these images out and see a brief glimpse of the talent and skill that make them arguably the most popular military jet team in the world! FLY NAVY!


Besides hosting the Navy’s West Coast fighter jet squadrons, the Navy also has several MH-60 Seahawks based at NAS Lemoore for rescue purposes. These Naval Aviators provide assistance locating and retrieving downed flyers when a tragedy occurs. However, these crews also help the local first responders when necessary. The local area is mountainous and relatively uninhabited. The unit’s skill set is ideal to assist when local resources are limited and time is of the essence.

The NAS Lemoore Seahawk crews provided an example of a search and rescue (SAR) demo, including a narration of why certain techniques are used. Well done Sailors! FLY NAVY!


Kent Pietch is likely my favorite civilian performer on the circuit. Sure, I have seen his act many times, I have photographed for his team, and I have ridden along in the vehicle he lands on when performing the truck top landing. Yet, the talent and execution make this one hell of a performance – every time! Personally, Kent is a class act and after watching what he can do with an aircraft not really designed to be an airshow star, you have no doubt he is a leader in the industry.


Photos of the F/A-18 tails on hand at the show. Love the CAG Bird colors…hopefully the tradition will continue. If not now, in the near future.


2018 Planes of Fame Airshow

The 2018 Planes of Fame Airshow was held May 4 – 6, at the airport in Chino, California. This year’s theme aircraft was P-38 Lightnings and had four flyable examples on hand. Another surprise was Yanks Air Museum pulled out their F-5G Lightning, a photo reconnaissance version of the P-38L, and placed it on static display. Unfortunately, P-38 “Lightning 33” had issues with an alternator and was unable to participate in the flying portion of the show. It was still mighty impressive to see three P-38s in formation at one time! A P-38 also participated in the USAF Heritage Flight.



This years event also included a segment on air racing, which featured passes by highly modified P-51 Mustangs air racers named “Strega” and “Voodoo”. Voodoo currently holds world’s record as the fastest piston powered aircraft at 531.64 mph.


A recently restored P-47D Thunderbolt “Dottie Mae” made her airshow debut at PoF, and she was absolutely beautiful. Dottie Mae is a later model bubble top variant of the Thunderbolt. Originally, the Thunderbolt had a razorback style aft of the cockpit. Planes of Fame’s P-47 is a razorback style and flew in formation with Dottie Mae. The bubble top shows the greatly improved reward vision.


Nearly all of the flyable aircraft in the Planes of Fame inventory participate in the annual airshow. Their collection of aircraft is impressive and contains rare birds like the P-47 razorback variant of the Thunderbolt, P-51A Mustang and the only flying examples of the P-26 Peashooter and N9M Flying Wing. The diverse collection contains US Navy aircraft from WWII such as the SBD Dauntless and TBF Avenger, well as classics such as the P-51 Mustang and P-40. Planes of Fame also has flying examples from the Korean War era such as the Yak-9, F-86 and MiG-15. The collection also includes a Vietnam era A-1 Skyraider.


Another reason why this show is special is that many of the nearby Museums share their aircraft which allows for many other aircraft variants to be viewed. Museums include:

The Lyon Air Museum
CAF – SoCal Wing
Palm Springs Air Museum
Warhawk Air Museum
Lewis Air Legends
GossHawk Unlimted, Inc.
Sanders Family
Yanks Air Museum

These museums bring aircraft like the P-51B Mustang, PBY4 Privateer, F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, F8F Bearcat, F7F Tigercat, P-51D Mustangs, Spitfires, P-63 King Cobra, P-40 Warhawks, C-47 Skytains.

Many other individual warbird owners also bring their aircraft, which also adds to the overall aircraft list.

The show also attracts demos from the USAF (this year the A-10 Warthog) and civilians such as Greg Colyer in his T-33 Shooting Star.

The lineup of aircraft below is just one of several, and by this view alone you can tell just how special this show really is. In my opinion, if you are a warbird fanatic like me, this is the ultimate warbird airshow to attend in the United States.