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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Thunder Over Michigan airshow was held on July 16-17, and featured a wide variety of which included warbird aircraft, military demonstrations and headlined by the US Navy Blue Angels.
Similar to 2021, the event was a “drive in” style show with people parking in the spot they would occupy on the airshow grounds. The theme of the show was “the British are coming!” A number of British aircraft were scheduled to appear, however large thunderstorm cells across the United States and mechanical issues prevented many of the aircraft from coming in. Thankfully, several flying museums answered the cry for help and provided additional airframes to fill the show.
Louis Horschel FG-1D Corsair
No stranger to Thunder Over Michigan, Lou Horschel returned in his FG-1D Corsair to start off each day with an aerobatic performance. The airframe is former bureau number 88090 and is now registered as NZ5612. The aircraft served in World War II with the New Zealand Air Force in No. 14 and No. 17 squadrons. It was rescued from the scrap yard in 1972. She wears the standard US Navy dark sea blue paint scheme and US rondels but lacks any squadron insignia.
Dean “Cutter” Cutshall F-100F Super Sabre
This aircraft is likely to be my current favorite jet warbird. The “Hun” as the Super Sabre was nicknamed, was America’s first aircraft capable of sustained super sonic flight. Dean’s version was built in 1958 as 56-3948, and is a two-seat variant. She flew in various roles for the USAF until 1973 when she was transferred to the Turkish Air Force. In Turkey, she saw combat in the invasion of Cyprus and was eventually retired to the desert in Turkey where she sat idle for 10 years. She was sold by the Turks and eventually brought back to the United States who intended to restore it. The owner failed to have the work done and eventually sold it to Dean. He and his crew ( Paul Swick and Jim “Prez” Prezbindowski) restored it including a new engine and numerous internal and external updates. She was returned to her USAF livery, although wearing civil registration N2011V. The Hun now resides in Fort Wayne, Indiana and is one of only several known flying examples left in the world. Of those known, Mr. Cutshall’s is the only one that flies regularly.
Hurricane Mk. XII
One of the main British fighter aircraft participants in the Battle of Britain was the Hawker Hurricane. Although the “fame” goes to the Spitfire, the Hurricane was used effectively to repel the German Luftwaffe advances. The Hurricane, much like the American P-40, was used in nearly every theatre of operations that the British Commonwealth fought. The airframe was modified over the years to accommodate different types of armament.
This version, a Mk. XII belongs to the Dakota Air Museum and was piloted by Bernie Vasquez. The museum’s Hurricane is painted in the “tropical” camouflage of the Mediterranean theatre of operations.
P-40M Kittyhawk III
The Tri-state Warbird Museum brought their immaculate P-40M Kittyhawk III for the first time. The airframe is a combat veteran, produced in 1943 as 43-5813, it was transferred to New Zealand Air Force under the lend-lease program. She served as NZ3119 as a training aircraft for 16 Squadron based at Air Station Woodbourne. During one flight, the right main gear collapsed, resulting in significant damage to the aircraft. As the 16 Squadron deployed, the airframe was abandoned.
Luckily, she was rescued from the scrap yard sometime in the 1960s and put into long-term storage. In 2006, the airframe was purchased by the Tri-State Warbird Museum and began the long restoration process with Allied Fighter Rebuilders based in Auckland New Zealand. In 2008 the airframe was shipped to the United States, where the final pieces of the restoration were completed. The airframe returned to flight in 2011. The aircraft suffered a minor accident which required additional repairs. Finally, the aircraft returned to flight in 2016.
Also in 2016, the airframe won the “Grand Champion, World War II” award along with the “Golden Wrench” at the EAA Oshkosh event. These two awards are considered the highest awards and most coveted in the warbird community.
It is refreshing to see a P-40 in an original livery!
USAF F-16 Viper Demo and Heritage Flight
Capt. Aimee Fiedler piloted the USAF F-16 Viper demo jet. She is the commanding officer of the Viper Demo Team based at Shaw AFB, located in Sumpter, South Carolina. The demo jet wears a special snake like scheme and is affectionately known as “Venom”.
Jim Beasley piloted the P-51D Mustang “Bald Eagle” with Capt. Fiedler for the USAF Heritage Flight.
Jerry Conley’s DH-115 Vampire “Vampy Too”
Jerry Conley opened the afternoon portion of the warbird portion of the show in his beautiful Vampire jet known as “Vampy Too”. Jerry has a long history in the airshow community, having previously performed a jet warbird act in a L-29 Delphin and now performs exclusively as Vampire Airshows. He brings the aircraft in as close as he can to the crowd for excellent photo opportunities, and also shows off the capabilities of the historic Vampire.
The Vampire is truly a historic aircraft. The type was the world’s first single engine jet powered aircraft. It was also the first jet to take-off and land on an aircraft carrier as well as the first jet to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Jet engine technology was new and dangerous in the late 1940s. Considering the age of the aircraft and engine technology, the Vampire is an impressive aircraft.
Vampy Too is configured with two wing-mounted extra fuel tanks. Armament consists of four Hispano Mk. V cannon as well as four 8 x 3-inch rockets. Thankfully, more Vampires are beginning to see flight and Jerry is one of the key people making it happen.
Fw 190 F-8
The second aircraft from the Tri-State Warbird Museum to appear was the Focke Wulf Fw 190. The Fw 190 is widely considered the German’s most feared and versatile aircraft of WW II.
Although it looks like an authentic airframe, this is actually a mostly new build aircraft. The data plate and some parts are original. It was produced in Germany in the early 2000s, and was donated to the museum in 2007. After an engine retrofit, and some other work, it was completed in November, 2019. Ray Fowler piloted the aircraft for the demonstrations.
One of the long-distance attendees was the Me-109 owned by the Erickson Aircraft Collection, located in Madras, Oregon. The 109 is the most produced aircraft of all time, with some 35,000 units being built. The airframe was produced into 1958. When the type was first flown in 1935, it was cutting edge and revolutionized the fighter aircraft design. The aircraft was very versatile allowing for armament modifications for the type of mission flown and engine tweaks that kept the performance on-par of the Allied aircraft.
This specific version is a Spanish built, Buchon version. The Buchon was powered by the Merlin engine (the same engine used by the Allies in the Spitfire and P-51 Mustang to name a few) and had the engines inverted, placing the exhausts lower on the cowling. The airframe is a movie star, having been used in the filming of the movie Battle of Britain. It has since been restored and modified to resemble a traditional Me-109, and is now powered by an Allison V-1710 which allows for a normal cowling.
The aircraft is a combat veteran, having served with the 302 Polish Squadron at Chailey, England serving as a fighter escort. The airframe flew escort for medium-bombers over France during the D-Day invasion. The airframe was transferred to the 329 Squadron, made up of Free French RAF pilots and based at Merston, and flew nineteen missions over the D-Day beachhead. In August, 1944, she was transferred again moving to 165 Squadron based at Detling. The new livery, 5AK flew 41 combat missions, including Operation Market Garden (Netherlands, September 17-27, 1944). The last claim to fame was during the post-war period, the airframe flew as escort for four C-47s transporting the exiled Belgian government officials back to Belgium.
Ohio Air National Guard F-16 Vipers
Two F-16 Vipers from the Ohio Air National Guard were on static display for Saturday’s show, then did a few passes before they flew home on Sunday. The aircraft are part of the 180th Fighter Wing, 112th Fighter Squadron “Stingers”. The unit is based at the Toledo Express Airport, and serves as the alert squadron for aerial intercepts in the Mid-West region,
US Navy Blue Angels
The 2022 headliners were the United States Navy’s Blue Angels. The team is now in the second year with the F/A-18 Super Hornet and C-130J Hercules. While the weather did not allow for a high-show, the team did not miss a beat, performing a low show which provides great views of the formations.
Around the Field
There were a handful of aircraft available to view on static display. Perhaps the most popular was the newly unveiled F/A-18E Super Hornet from VFC-12 “Fighting Omars” painted to represent an Su-57 Felon.
Evening Engine Runup Photo Shoot
Three aircraft were towed over to the ramp for the evening photo shoot. First up was the Toledo ANG F-16 Viper, followed by the Me-109 and lastly the P-40M. We were told that this was the first time an ANG unit participated in this type of photo shoot.
Selfridge ANGB hosted their open house airshow on July 9-10, 2022. Like many airshows across the country, this one was previously postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the show did not feature a military jet team, the action in the sky was filled with warbirds, two parachute teams and was headlined by the USAF F-22 Raptor Demo.
The all women’s parachute team, Misty Blues, opened the show each day with the flags of the United States and Canada followed by a large streamer promoting the team’s colors. Afterwards, the ladies walked the crowd line signing autographs and posing for photos with members of the audience.
The flying portion of the show each opened with the Friends of Jenny LLC‘s JN-4 Jenny. The Jenny is perhaps the most iconic American built aircraft of the early days of flight. It was one of the nation’s first aircraft designed to teach people how to fly, the aircraft synonymous with “barnstorming”, flew the airmail and eventually created what is commercial aviation.
This Jenny is only one of seven known to be left flying in the world today. The Jenny underwent a restoration beginning in 2012 and she took her first flight in many years on October 2, 2013. Many of the components needed to be refabricated, which was done using copies of the original Curtiss blueprints. She is painted to replicate the original Jenny “38262” which was in flying with the Army Air Service and was the first aircraft to fly the US Air Mail from Washington DC to New York City on May 15, 1918.
Warbird Heritage Foundation brought their AD-1 Skyraider. The AD-1 was designed as a single place to replace the dive bombers (Dauntless and Helldivers) and torpedo planes (Avengers) on the decks of the Navy’s carriers in World War II. The aircraft did not see service until 1946. Although too late to see service during WWII, Skyraiders were the light and medium attack aircraft of the fleet until the mid-1960s, seeing service in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
This particular aircraft is BuNo 09257 and built in 1947. It served with the fleet until 1956 when it was stricken from the inventory. It was purchased in 1982 as surplus and returned to flying condition in 1989. It was acquired by the Warbird Heritage Foundation in 2008.
So, if it is a NAVY plane, why does it wear a USAF livery? The answer is simple, when the Navy retired the planes, the USAF needed an aircraft that could loiter in a combat zone a long time, carry a large amount of ordinance and serve as an escort for the combat rescue helicopters. They remained in service with the USAF until the early 1970s.
Greg Colyer – Ace Maker Airshow
Greg Colyer started the jet warbird portion of the airshow with the “Ace Maker” T-33 Shooting Star. The T-33 was the nation’s first jet trainer. It saw service with the USAF, Navy and multiple allied nations into the 1970s. Many of the current versions flying, including “Ace Maker” are license built Canadair variants which had a more powerful engine.
Greg earned his pilot’s license while serving with the US Army. After leaving the Army he continued to fly and worked as an Air Traffic Controller. He continued to fly and performed an occasional airshow. Life changed in 2007 when he took his first flight in a T-33. Every since he wanted to own and perform in a T-33. His dream came true when he purchased the original “Ace Maker” and began performing at airshows across the United States. He now owns three T-33s and is working on developing a 2-ship T-33 team with “Scratch” Mitchell, a former RCAF CF-18 Hornet demo pilot.
AT-6 Texan – Tuskegee Airmen Tribute – Lt. Col. Jefferson
The Tuskegee Airmen Museum flew a tribute to Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, a native of Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from pilot training in 1944 and did his combat training at Selfridge Field. He went on to serve with the 332nd Fighter Group, 301st Fighter Squadron “Red Tails” in Ramitelli, Italy. He was shot down on his 18th mission and was a prisoner of war for eight months in Poland. Mr. Jefferson continued to serve in the Air Force Reserves until 1969 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He passed away on June 22, 2022.
P-51D Mustang “Swamp Fox” – RT Dixon
RT Dixon performed an aerobatic display in his beautiful P-51D Mustang “Swamp Fox”. In addition to the aerobatic display, he did a formation pass with the AT-6 Texan as part of the tribute to Lt. Col. Jefferson. The P-51 was another aircraft the Tuskegee Airmen flew during WWII.
Swamp Fox was delivered to the USAAF on May 7, 1945, serial number 44-74202. She was too late to see service during WWII and served stateside in various roles and units until September, 1957 when she was removed from the inventory as surplus. She began a restoration in 2007 in Chino, California and flew again in 2012. The markings are those of Lt. Will Foard, 364th Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, based out of Leiston, England. Mr. Foard was able to see his restored “Swamp Fox” in December, 2012 and took flight in her with Robert Dixon Sr. piloting.
F-100 Super Sabre – Dean Cutshall
Early Vietnam era flight was represented by Dean Cutshall performing in his F-100F Super Sabre. The “Hun” as the Super Sabre was nicknamed, was America’s first aircraft capable of sustained super sonic flight. Dean’s version was built in 1958 as 56-3948, and is a two-seat variant. She flew in various roles for the USAF until 1973 when she was transferred to the Turkish Air Force. In Turkey, she saw combat in the invasion of Cyprus and was eventually retired to the desert in Turkey where she sat idle for 10 years. She was sold by the Turks and eventually brought back to the United States who intended to restore it. The owner failed to have the work done and eventually sold it to Dean. He and his crew ( Paul Swick and Jim “Prez” Prezbindowski) restored it including a new engine and numerous internal and external updates. She was returned to her USAF livery, although wearing civil registration N2011V. The Hun now resides in Fort Wayne, Indiana and is one of only several known flying examples left in the world. Of those known, Mr. Cutshall’s is the only one that flies regularly.
The Warbird Heritage Foundation‘s second aircraft participating in the show was their A-4B Skyhawk. The Skyhawk replaced the AD-1 Skyraider on the decks of the Navy’s carrier fleet as the primary light bomber. The A-4 was extremely popular amongst the pilots and served in a number of roles for the Navy, Marines and numerous allied air arms. The aircraft’s agility and high subsonic speed made it an ideal aircraft to serve in other roles such as the Navy’s advanced trainer, adversarial aircraft (the aerial co-star of the original Top Gun film) and the mount of the Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration team from 1974 to 1986.
This particular Skyhawk is an early “B” model, built in 1958 and served with the US Navy until stricken from the records in February, 1970. The airframe’s history seems to be hazy from 1970-1980, but it appears she was serving as a technical trainer during that period. She was rescued from that role in 1987 and restoration to flight was initiated. She flew briefly in 1989 and then went on display at the EAA Oshkosh Museum. Warbird Heritage Foundation acquired the aircraft in 2007 and again restored her to flight status. Her first flight took place in 2009 and is now seen regularly at airshows across the Midwest region of the United States.
US Army Golden Knights
US Customs & Border Patrol Demo
The aerial branch of the SE Michigan branch of the US Customs & Border Patrol is stationed at Selfridge. They performed a demonstration of a rope extraction.
Team Selfridge Demo
Selfridge Air National Guard Base is the second largest joint Reserves bases in the United States. The primary occupant is the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard, with aircraft assets including the KC-135 Stratotanker, A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog) and C-130 Hercules. Additionally, the United States Coast Guard uses the facility for MH-65 Dolphin helicopter operations as Air Station Detroit. Other operators include components of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force Reserve, and Army Air National Guard, operating CH-47 Chinooks.
The team formed in 2019 and primarily performs in the Midwest, with the aircraft being based in Michigan. All members of the team belong to the Classic Jet Aircraft Association and the Red Star Pilots Association. The L-39 Albatross is the worlds most numerically popular jet warbird at this time.
USAF C-17 Globemaster III Demo (East Coast)
The USAF C-17 East Coast Demo Team brought the huge Globemaster III to Selfridge. The team is based at Joint Base Charleston South Carolina. Although a large cargo aircraft, the pilots state that it handles like a fighter aircraft and is quite agile.
The C-17 began operations in 1993 with the USAF and is the primary medium cargo and troop transport. The aircraft is designed to to use short runways and allows for a large payload. The storage area can be configured to handle a number of different types of cargo, including seats, palletized cargo, and tracked vehicles.
RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demo
Our Canadian allies were represented by the CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team. Captain Jesse “Modem” Haggart-Smith is the team’s demonstration pilot. Modem earned his wings in 2016 and has over 600 hours in the Hornet. The CF-18 is Canada’s primary fighter aircraft and the RCAF routinely deploys internationally to support allied nations and perform security duties requested by the United Nations.
Sadly, the CF-18 was only able to perform on Saturday. While the team brought two aircraft (standard for the airshow industry), both were subject to maintenance issues on Sunday.
USCG MH-65C Dolphin Demo
Selfridge is home to USCG Air Station Detroit. The MH-65 Dolphin is the assigned duties such as search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security missions. Air Station Detroit has a large area of operations that include southern portion of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. In total, the area covers 1,100 miles of shoreline from Saginaw Bay, MI to the St. Lawrence Seaway.
USAF F-22 Raptor Demo
The feature performance of the 2022 show was the USAF F-22 Raptor. Maj. Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson provided a high energy demonstration of America’s premier air-superiority fighter.
Around The Field
Selfridge had a nice static display, but still small compared to prior years.
VAQ-131 Lancers EG-18G Growler
The static display highlight for me had to be the pair of Growlers from VAQ-131. The unit is stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. Seeing their CAG aircraft was great!
Mid-Atlantic Air Museum hosted the 31st annual World War II Weekend on June 3-5, 2022. Saturday’s crowd was believed to be a record, and enthusiasm was high with a large number of aircraft, WWII vehicles and reenactors.
Weather was near flawless with temperatures in the high 70s all weekend with no rain which traditionally plagues at least one day of the event. The weekend was not without challenges. Several aircraft were down for a portion or the entirety of the event due to mechanical issues. The CAF Corsair also struck a bird during Friday’s show, causing it to miss Saturday’s flight.
L-Bird is slang for the various liaison aircraft that served in nearly every major battle of the war. Liaison aircraft are light aircraft used for local observation and spotting for artillery units. The L-Birds were used from WWII through Vietnam. During Vietnam, the mission was eventually taken over by helicopters.
Trainers were represented by several examples of all levels of the WWII trainers – Basic, Primary and Advanced.
“Jersey Jerk” T-6/SNJ Texan Formation Team
Pacific Theatre Bombers
Bombers from the Pacific Theatre of Operations were represented by the SBD Dauntless, Val Diver Bomber and Kate torpedo bomber.
The Dauntless was the US Navy’s dive bomber. The airframe served from the initial days of the war to the end. Although it was slow and considered obsolete, the aircraft and its crew used it with major success. The Dauntless is credited with sinking over 300,000 tons of enemy shipping, which includes five aircraft carries. Four of those were during the Battle of Midway.
This particular Dauntless is part of the Commemorative Air Force, and is operated at CAF Airbase Georgia. The aircraft has been with the CAF for a number of years, and was restored to its present condition during a multi-year restoration from 1991 – 1999. The paint scheme is accurate to the time period around the Battle of the Marianas (“The Marianas Turkey Shoot).
Alan Armstrong owns this reproduction “Kate”, the Japanese Navy’s torpedo bomber. The aircraft is also part of the Commemorative Air Force, and is operated at CAF Airbase Georgia. The airframe was purposely built for use in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! and has also been used in numerous other movies and television shows.
The aircraft is currently configured in the markings of the Group Leader from the Second Carrier Division of the Carrier Hiryu. The aircraft participated on the Pearl Harbor attack, with the specific target of the on the Battleship, U.S.S. California.
The Val was the Japanese equivalent to the SBD Dauntless at the outbreak of WWII. This specific aircraft is also a reproduction and was purposely built for for use in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! The aircraft is owned by Ken Laird.
The medium bombers were represented this year by two B-25 Mitchells. The Delaware Aviation Museum brought their highly polished “Panchito” while Tom Duffy brought the natural aluminum finished “Take-Off Time” Both Mitchells are later “J” models with the bombardier nose.
Panchito is one of the aircraft selling rides during the weekend, making it one of the busiest aircraft on the ramp.
Jerry Wells Aerobatic Demo
Perhaps the act that surprised me the most was Jerry Wells’ aerobatic demonstration in the BU-133 “Jungmeister.” Although an older design, the aircraft was in immaculate condition and was incredibly nimble. I was very entertained and surprised at the aggressiveness of the demo. I look forward to the next time I am able to see Mr. Wells perform.
Heavy bombers in attendance included the Yankee Air Museum‘s B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady”, Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 Super Fortress “FiFi” and B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil”.
“FiFi” is the B-29 Superfortress belonging to the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron. After the war, she was originally used as a missile target on the China Lake range. Thankfully she was not damaged and rescued by the CAF around 1970. She flew for a number of years as the lone airworthy B-29. In 2006 she was grounded due to engine maintenance. Original engines were problematic and spare parts in short supply. The decision was made to retrofit custom built engines to allow FiFi to return to the skies. After four years, she flew again in 2010.
Yankee Lady is a B-17G Flying Fortress built by Vega as USAAF serial number 44-85829. She was built too late to be used during the war and was placed into storage. She was eventually transferred to the United States Coast Guard, where she served until 1958. In 1959 she was sold for scrap mental, but was saved when purchased and used as an aerial firefighter in 1966. In 1969 Like several other aircraft in attendance, she was used in the filming of the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!
In 1985, she was purchased by the Yankee Air Force (as the Yankee Air Museum was known by at the time) and was immediately placed into the hangar for restoration. She returned to the skies in 1995 and is painted represent an aircraft in the markings of a B-17G assigned to the 8th Air Force, 381st Bomb Group flying out of Ridgewell, England.
“Diamond Lil” is the B-24 Liberator belonging to the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron. She is likely the oldest surviving B-24 as her serial number is the 25th of 18,482 B-24s built. She was originally assigned to the Royal Air Force as a trainer, but a landing accident changed her fate. She was subsequently used as a B-24 trainer, B-24 development and a cargo variant (C-87) hauling parts between B-24 factories.
Diamond Lil became a member of the CAF in 1967 and was originally painted in the in the colors of the 98th BG, of the Ploesti oil field raid. In 2006 she was repainted and renamed. Then in 2012 it was decided to return her to her original name “Diamond Lil”. She subsequently suffered from a nose gear failure that required a year’s worth of restoration work. Like the B-29, she is one of two flying examples of the B-24 currently.
The WWII fighters were well represented with five different examples flying.
Certainly one of the highlights was the appearance of the Military Air Museum‘s P-39 Airacobra. There are only a handful of these aircraft flying, so to see one is a rare treat. The aircraft is a P-39F, and was originally serving in Australia when it crashed on May 1, 1942 during a training exercise.
The aircraft was recovered in 1972 and subsequently restored. Although marked in USAAF markings, the aircraft is also marked as a P-39Q that was supplied to the Soviets.
P-63 King Cobra
The King Cobra is part of the Commemorative Air Force, and is operated at CAF Airbase Georgia. Although the P-63 looks similar to the P-39, it is actually a totally new design. It was redesigned to address some of the shortcomings of the P-39.
The airframe was sold as surplus in 1946 and flown by several civilians until 1975. After a legal battle, restoration began on the deteriorated airframe around 1980 by the CAF Missouri Wing. However, a flood damaged the hangar and numerous parts. The restoration was abandoned by the Missouri Wing and subsequently acquired by CAF Airbase Georgia in 1996. Full restoration was restarted in 1999 and the first flight was conducted in February, 2017. CAF decided to mark the aircraft in an accurate livery once completed. The aircraft now wears markings during its time with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) – the forerunner of today’s NASA.
The weekend highlight was the two Bell machines flying in formation.
“Red Nose” is the nickname of this airframe and as is the aircraft that started the Commemorative Air Force. She now flies out of CAF Airbase Georgia. She began service in 1945 with the USAAF and served until 1947. She went into storage until 1951 when she was sold to the Canadian Air Force, where she served until 1957. She was then sold to the founders of the CAF in 1957.
A restoration was initiated in 1993 and she was transferred to Airbase Georgia in 2002. Red Nose represents the aircraft of Capt. David Howe, who flew with the 334th FS, 4th FG, 8th AF.
Two Corsairs were present at the event. One from the CAF Airbase Georgia (checker pattern) and the other I believed to be owned by Tom Duffy. The checkered Corsair struck a bird on Saturday, so photo opportunities were limited.
The USAAF fighters formed up for a rare formation flight of four USAAF fighters.
One of the yearly highlights is the large battle reenactments. This year was based on the ETO.
Around the Field
There is so much to see and experience at the event. Aircraft, reenactor camps, WWII era themed entertainment.
P-61 Black Widow
The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum continues to restore their very rare P-61C Black Widow.
A special shout out goes out to the crew of “Beach City Baby”. She is a C-53 Skytrooper owned by Vintage Wings, Inc. My son and I met the crew at breakfast of our hotel, including the owner, Jason Capra. Each of these fellas were very fun, polite and gracious with their time to talk to my son.
I had the opportunity to watch them interact with other people on the show grounds. Their interactions with others were similar to ours. I can honestly say these guys are a class act all around.
The CAF West Texas Wing brought the rare SB2C Helldiver. She was unable to participate in the flying portion of the show due to some mechanical issues. We were able to get a close up look when she was moved to the static display area.
“Dotttie Mae” has a story to her with a touch of history to go along with it. She is a P-47D Thunderbolt (P47D-28-RA), serial number 42-29150, and manufactured in 1944 at the Republic factory in Evansville, Indiana. She was assigned to the USAAF’s 9th Air Force on December 16, 1944, and served with the 405th Fighter Group, 511th Fighter Squadron.
Lt. Lawrence Kuhl had 17 combat missions in his log book when he was assigned a new P-47 airframe. To honor his wife, he named the plane “Dottie Mae” and had the Roberto Vargas pin up calendar artwork piece titled “Santa’s Little Helper” painted on the side.
After flying in 90 combat missions, Dottie’s flying career came to an end on May 8, 1945 when she crashed into a lake near Ebensee, Austria. Sadly, the incident was not related to combat, but instead as a celebration. The pilot that day, Lt. Henry Mohr, was flying low over a recently liberated concentration camp to boost the morale of the prisoners. However, he came down too low and the propeller blades clipped the water causing the aircraft to crash into the lake. The airframe sank, but luckily Lt. Mohr survived the incident and exited the aircraft. Dottie remained at the bottom of the lake for over 60 years. With the crash, Dottie Mae made history as the last USAAF aircraft lost “in action” in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) during World War II.
In the summer of 2005, Dottie was raised from the lake in Austria, and in 2010 she brought to Idaho for restoration by Vintage Airframes, LLC. Surprisingly, she was reported to be in good shape considering she was in water for over six decades. Some of her original paint still remained including her name and nose art. The aircraft flipped over when she sank. The depth of the water, combined with the silt that collected over her underside surfaces preserved the aircraft nicely. The preservation is similar to the US Navy aircraft that sank in the Great Lakes during WWII.
The team at Vintage Airframes used original wartime design documents to make repairs and components. The owner spared no expense in restoring the aircraft to a “factory new” condition and the results are easily apparent. The preference was to use original parts if possible, then using new old stock or fabrication as a last resort. Dottie returned to the sky on her first post-restoration flight on June 23, 2017.
The aircraft is now owned by the “Allied Fighters” organization, which is based at the Chino, California airport. An excellent area for warbirds considering Planes of Fame Museum and Yank’s Air Museum are also located at the airport.
The return to flight is not the only bright spot in the story. When the restored Dottie was unveiled, three of her former crew were there to see her. Pilots Larry Kuhl (the one that named her) and Ralph Vanderkove were in the audience as well as one of her armorer’s, Leonard Hitchman.
After the war ended, many of the P-47s were scrapped rather than flown back or transported back to the United States. Of the approximately 15,000 P-47s built, Dottie is the only known combat veteran of either the 8th or 9th Air Force ETO area of operations with a combat history.
Dorie now makes many regular appearances at airshows on the West Coast. The casual person may identify the aircraft as a P-47, but few people know her place in history. She is a beautiful aircraft and it has been fun seeing her in her glory.
The 2022 Space Coast International Airshow was held on May 21-22 at the Space Coast Regional Airport. The show had several highlights including the F-22 Raptor demo and the EA-18 Growler demo. The airshow announced that the static display was the largest in the show’s history. Most of the static aircraft were from the Valiant Air Command’s museum. Static highlights for me included the F-14 Tomcat, Canberra and F-4 Phantom II.
The show openers were the SOCOM Para-Commandos, a joint unit comprised of active duty Army Special Forces, Navy SEALS, Air Force Combat Controllers and Marine Raiders.
John Black Aerobatics
Local performer, John Black, flies his Super Decathlon in an aerobatic routine. John retired from the US Air Force as a Lt. Colonel and flew F-15 Eagles for the Florida Air National Guard.
Valiant Air Command Warbirds
Three of Valiant Air Command‘s warbirds participated in the show. B-25 Mitchell “Killer Bee”, N2S Stearman, and C-47 Skytrain “Tico Belle”
Doug Matthews piloted his Marchetti S.211 for his final public displays. This was my first time seeing this little trainer jet. Looks like a fun ride!
Army Aviation Heritage Foundation “The Sky Soldiers”
The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation brought three of their Vietnam veteran aircraft to perform. Two UH-1 Hueys and the AH-1 Cobra. Besides performing, rides were also available for purchase. These aircraft can be heard from a long distance and perhaps no other sound is as distinctive as those from these two types of helicopters.
A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog)
Two A-10s from the 76th Fighter Squadron “Vanguards” participated. The 76th is stationed at Moody AFB in Georgia and is part of the 476th Fighter Group. The unit has its origins with the original “Flying Tigers” and the “FT” tail code along with the shark mouth on the nose are a tribute to that legacy. Saturday’s performance featured both jets in flight, while Sunday only one of the jets flew while the other was in the static display area.
USN EA-18 Growler Legacy Demo Team
One of the newer demo teams on the airshow circuit is the EA-18 Growler team. Traditionally the display is a 2-ship performance. However for the entire weekend, the second jet was down due to a mechanical issue. Saturday’s display was flown by Flt. Lt. Tom “Fogo De Chao” Budd (an exchange pilot from the RAAF) and Lt. Brandon “Fat Amy” Baker. Sunday’s performance was flown by Lt. Eddie “Ham” Desch and Lt. Kelsey “DIP” Daucher (a graduate of Florida Institute of Tech, located in nearby Melbourne, FL).
Stuart Milson piloted Cavanaugh Flight Museum‘s AD-5W (EA-1E) Skyraider. This Legacy Flight was special since the formation included two electronic warfare aircraft. The museum’s Skyraider was delivered to the Navy in 1955 and served in VAW-12 “Bats” until 1960. The airframe was then transferred to VAW-11 until it was retired from service in 1963. The airframe is painted in the scheme it wore while serving in VAW-12. In addition to the Skyraider, Stuart Milson performs the heritage flight in numerous Navy warbirds including the Corsair, Hellcat and Bearcat.
Buck Roetman – Wild Horse Aviation
Buck Roetman founded Wild Horse Aviation in 2006 and is a modified Pitts S2S aircraft. The routine is a high-energy performance that thrills up high and down low to the surface. Buck has flown for over 35 years and has over 13,500 hours of experience. He began performing at airshows in 1998. In addition to flying, he also serves as an Aerobatic Competency Examiner for the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS).
USAF F-22 Raptor Demo
Maj. Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson shredded the skies in the F-22 Raptor. With the area’s high humidity, the jet made plenty of vapor clouds. The Raptor demo is simply amazing since the jet is so powerful and utilizes thrust vectoring. Even though I have seen this demo many times now, it continues to amaze me with the level of control and power available at any given second.
Stuart Milson also performed the Heritage Flight in P-51D Mustang “Brat III” from Cavanaugh Flight Museum. The museum’s P-51 was manufactured in 1944 and shipped to England. It was assigned to the 9th Air Force, 370th Fighter Group, 401st Fighter Squadron, and was flown by Lt. Hjalmar Johnsen.
The 2021 Thunder Over Michigan Airshow took place on August 6-8 at the historic Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The theme for the event was a gathering of B-25 Mitchells, with the headlining performance of the USAF Thunderbirds. This was also a year for firsts for the show.
Many airshows cancelled due to Covid-19. However, the crew at Thunder Over Michigan elected to try a 2-show per day, drive-in style format show to be socially responsible yet provide an airshow to the airplane fanatics that craved the rumble of round engines and jet noise. The show morphed into one of the largest in the country when the US Navy’s Blue Angels announced that they would also appear at the show. Thunder Over Michigan was one of only several shows that would host both US jet teams at the same show. The lineup of warbird aircraft, military demos and the TWO jet teams made this one of the best airshows I have ever attended.
Jim Tobul – F4U Corsair “Korean War Hero” Aerobatics
The F4U-4 Corsair “Korean War Hero” (BuNo. 97143/N713JT) owned by Jim Tobul has a combat history aboard two aircraft carriers and two squadrons. The aircraft flew with VF-884 aboard the USS Boxer, and then later with VF-653 aboard the USS Valley Forge. In total the aircraft flew 200 sorties during the Korean War. In 1960, the aircraft was sold to and used by the Honduran Air Force until approximately 1970. In 1981, the Tobul family purchased the aircraft and began a 10-year restoration of the aircraft.
German Luftwaffe A400M Atlas Demo
Thunder Over Michigan has had a fantastic relationship with the German Luftwaffe over the past several years, hosting several different types of aircraft. The A400M demo at Thunder Over Michigan was the first in North America for the type. The Atlas is roughly the equivalent to the USAF C-17 Globemaster III. Although the Atlas is a turboprop, it has very good performance and handling for an aircraft of its size. Very impressive demo!
B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady” and the Little Friends
The Yankee Air Museum’s flagship aircraft, “Yankee Lady” performed in the show making several passes with P-51 Mustangs. Arguably, the B-17 and P-51 are the two most iconic aircraft associated with the USAAF 8th Air Force and the Americans participation in the ETO.
USAF F-35A Lightning II Demo Team
The most impressive single-ship demonstration of the event in my opinion was the USAF F-35 demo. Major Kristen “Beo” Wolfe absolutely shredded the skies in the F-35A Lightning II, the USAF’s newest “lightweight” strike-fighter. The F-35 Demo Team comes from the 388th Fighter Wing, based at Hill AFB, Utah. The skies were challenging, but the crowd was rewarded with amazing photo opportunities of this amazing aircraft and pilot. The aircraft and demo profile bring everything airshow fans want…lots of jet noise, vapes and burner!
USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II Demo Team
Maj. Hayden “Gator” Fullam piloted the USAF A-10 Warthog Demo. The team is based at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. The aircraft continues to be the premier close air support aircraft in the world. Although I have seen this demo many times, it is still one of my favorites! HOOOGGG!!
USAF Heritage Flight
The USAF Heritage Flight was 3-ship performance, consisting of a P-51D Mustang “Moonbeam McSwine”, and the A-10 and F-35 demo teams.
US Navy Blue Angels
As I said in the intro, this was a solid airshow. With the announcement that the Blues would be in attendance as well propelled this show into the stratosphere. This was the 75th Anniversary of the team, as well as, the team’s first year in the F/A-18 Super Hornets. The team was the morning headliner, and for Sunday’s performance, the team wore yellow flightsuits. Yellow flightsuits are now seen very often and are reserved for special occasions.
Gathering of B-25 Mitchells
The warbird headlining act was the gathering of B-25 Mitchells. In attendance were 14 of the medium bombers. On static display was another, “Sandbar Mitchell”, which is currently being restored. There were several others scheduled to attend, but mechanical issues, Covid-19 travel restrictions or weather prevented the aircraft from attended. Regardless, this was a very impressive collection of B-25s.
The only one I was unable to photograph in the air was “Georgia Mae.” She did not participate in Sunday’s performance.
Champaign Aviation Museum’s B-25 is “J” model with USAAF serial number 44-28866, and wears civilian registration of N744CG. The airframe was used by the Air Force until 1957. It was retired to the boneyard, and then sold for use as an aerial firefighter until the late 1980s. She was acquired by the museum in 2008, and regularly takes her to airshows around the Midwest.
Devil Dog is part of the Commemorative Air Force, and is the lone aircraft of the “Devil Dog” Squadron. The Devil Dog represents a PBJ-1J in the markings of VMB 612 squadron. The airframe is a B-25J-30-NC and has the serial number is 44-86758. Civilian registration is N9643C.
Liberty Aviation Museum’s B-25 is also a “J” model, with USAAF serial number 44-86777, and wears civilian registration N345BG. She continued with USAF service until 1958. After that she was bought and sold several times and used for various task including executive transport and cargo. Liberty Aviation Museum acquired the aircraft in 2011 and underwent an extensive restoration.
Tom Reilly owns Killer B, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-86697, and wears civilian registration N62163. The aircraft was basically surplus upon completion at the factory. She was shipped for storage and then eventually transferred to the RCAF. After RCAF duties, she was owned by serval civilians and subsequently used by several Latin American air forces. Reilly restored the aircraft and made the first flight as Killer B in 1995. The aircraft is now home in Titusville, Florida.
C&P Aviation services brought Lady Luck, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number45-8884, and wears civilian registration N5833B. She served with the USAF until 1958, wherein she was sold to numerous civilian owners, including the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. She was acquired by C&P in 1993, and the aircraft is located in Minnesota.
“Maid in the Shade”
Commemorative Air Force owns “Maid in the Shade” a “J” model, with USAAF serial number43-35972, and wears civilian registration N125AZ. She is part of the Air Base Arizona squadron. The airframe has combat history in the Mediterranean Theatre of operations based in Corsica. She ended service with the USAF in 1950. After that she was used as an aerial sprayer. She was obtained by the CAF in 1981.
Commemorative Air Force owns “Miss Mitchell” a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-29869, and wears civilian registration N27493. She is part of the Minnesota Wing of the CAF. The aircraft pays tribute to the original aircraft that served with the 310th Bomb Group, 380th Bomb Squadron during 1944-45 in the Mediterranean. The current nose art was painted by the same artist that painted the original “Miss Mitchell” nose art on the original aircraft in 1944.
Yankee Air Museum owns Rosie’s Reply. Unlike most other Mitchells in attendance, she is an early “D” model, with USAAF serial number43-3634, and wears civilian registration N3774. Like “Maid in the Shade”, Rosie has combat history in the Mediterranean, having flown at least eight combat missions. The airframe was initially meant for the RAF, but was forced into USAAF service temporarily. She did return to North America in 1944 and was transferred to the RCAF for use as a training aircraft. She left RCAF service in 1968 and was eventually purchased by Glen Lamont and flown as “Gallant Warrior”. In 1988 she was acquired by the Yankee Air Museum and renamed “Yankee Warrior.” In early 2021, she was repainted into the current scheme, and is representative of the original look during her combat service in the MTO.
Commemorative Air Force owns “Semper Fi”, a PBJ-1J (the only known flying example). The PBJ is the Navy variant of the B-25 and is manufactured as a B-25J-30-NC. Her serial number is 44-30988 and wears civilian registration N5865V. Semper Fi is part of the Southern California Wing of the CAF. Semper Fi was produced too late in the war to see service, was eventually sold as surplus in 1947. CAF acquired her after numerous civilian owners in 1988 and began a lengthy restoration that was completed in 2016.
Commemorative Air Force owns “Show Me”, a a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-31385, and wears civilian registration N345TH. She is part of the Missouri Wing of the CAF. The airframe served as a trainer with the USAF until 1959. She was subsequently sold as surplus. After several private owners, she was purchased by the CAF in 1982.
Tom Duffy owns Take-Off Time, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-30832, and wears civilian registration N3155G. The aircraft is frequently seen at many Mid West. Little other details appear to be available about the aircraft.
The Military Air Museum owns Wild Cargo, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-30129, and wears civilian registration N7947C. The airframe served with the USAF as a trainer until 1958. It was subsequently sold as surplus. After a handful of other owners, the Military Air Museum acquired the airframe in 1997 and was restored to flight status in 2005. In addition to the B-25, the Military Air Museum has a large number of flyable WWI and WWII aircraft. It is well worth the trip to Virginia Beach, VA to check this collection out!
“Yankee Doodle” aka “Axis Nightmare”
The Tri-State Warbird Museum owns “Yankee Doodle”, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number45-8898, and wears civilian registration N898BW. The airframe was produced too late in the war to see service. She was immediately placed into storage. Eventually, she served as a trainer with the USAF until 1959. After being purchased as surplus, the aircraft was only flown for a handful of years before sitting derelict. She was recovered in 1983 and began flight again after a restoration in 1985. Tri-State Warbird Museum acquired the aircraft in 2004 and was flown in the markings of the RAF with nose art of “Axis Nightmare.” The aircraft is now a “star”, having been one of the two B-25s used to Hulu remake of the film “Catch-22.” It currently wears the nose art of “Yankee Doodle.” It is uncertain if the current scheme will remain or if the museum will revert it back to “Axis Nightmare.”
Wiley Sanders from Alabama owns Georgia Mae, a “J” model, with USAAF serial number44-86785, and wears civilian registration N5262V. Like several others in attendance, this airframe was produced too late in the war to see service and was immediately placed into storage. It was eventually used by the USAF as a trainer and sold as surplus in 1958. The current owner purchased it in 1983 and completed restoration in 1985. Little else is known about the aircraft.
US Navy EA-18G Growler Demo Team
The USN Growler team made their first Michigan appearance. The EA-18G Growler is the Navy’s electronic warfare and countermeasures aircraft. The Growler is a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, with modifications to the aircraft for the specifics of electronics warfare. The most notable difference from the Super Hornet is the addition of the electronic pods on the wingtips instead of the usual missile rails.
The team does not perform a full aerobatic demonstration of the aircraft, but does provide several nice high-performance passes and climbs.
“Mad Max” P-51 Mustang Aerobatics
Lou Horschel performed an aerobatic routine in his TP-51D Mustang. The airframe is USAAF serial number 45-11559 and wears civilian registration of N51MX.
US Navy Legacy Flight
The Legacy flight returned to the Michigan skies in the form of the EA-18 Growler along with Jim Tobul’s F4U-4 Corsair. The formation was done fantastically.
The featured jet team for the afternoon performance was the USAF Thunderbirds. The ceiling for Sunday’s performance was not ideal, but the team still pulled off a fantastic show and capped a memorable airshow.
The 2021 show certainly set the bar high for future Thunder Over Michigan airshows. Whether this is a blessing or a curse is yet to be determined. Regardless, the event was a huge success, and it was wonderful to see all of the aircraft in the sky above Michigan. I wish to thank Yankee Air Museum’s Executive Director, Kevin Walsh, for his continued support of my airshow photography.
The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum hosted their annual “World War II Weekend on June 4-6, 2021. This is likely the largest event of its kind in the entire United States. In addition to the remarkable airshow, the museum hosts numerous reenactors that set up camps for the weekend as well as hundreds of WWII era antique military vehicles. Every theatre of operations is represented in some fashion, as well as many of the Allied and Axis units. It really is a case of visual sensory overload with so many things to see.
The aircraft lineup is impressive, with some aircraft visiting each year while others rotate. This year had several aircraft that I had not seen in person, so it was a real treat. Weather across the United States prevented several aircraft from attending and maintenance issues claimed several other airframes (a usual problem for most airshows).
This was my first airshow of 2021, so I was very pleased that Mother Nature cooperated by providing beautiful skies and pleasant temperatures. My last experience here was quite the opposite, and the mud on the airfield is legendary for making a mess of everything.
Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft were represented by replicas of the B5N “Kate” torpedo bomber and D3A “Val” dive bomber. Both aircraft are movie prop conversions of American aircraft to simulate the Japanese aircraft. The Kate was the Japanese equivalent of the TBF/TBM Avenger, while the Val is similar to the SBD Dauntless.
Commemorative Air Force Air Base Georgia owns the Kate. DUring Saturday’s flight, the right main landing gear would not properly retract. Thankfully, the issue was only a visual problem and did not result in any further problems.
USAAF Medium Bombers
B-25 Mitchell “Rosie’s Reply”
The Yankee Air Museum brought several of their aircraft including their recently repainted B-25D, now named “Rosie’s Reply”. The aircraft was repainted in early 2021 to represent its combat service in Italy in 1944. The nose art is not authentic, but the other markings are accurate to the airframe. Prior to the repainting, the aircraft was polished aluminum and flown as “Yankee Warrior”.