Sunday, July 31, 2011

Air Show!

The missus and I recently attended something new,an import from England. 'Flying Proms': 'a symphonic airshow', like they do at Duxford or Shuttleworth(?), with music playing while vintage aircraft do fly-bys. It was program music, themes from films:"Battle of Britain", "The Blue Max", "Out of Africa", "The English Patient", and "Victory at Sea".The aircraft were the stars of the show, types I never expected to see flying.

I grew up in the flight path of NAS S.Weymouth. When we first moved to Weymouth, blimps droned overhead, headed out on patrol for Russian subs lurking off the coast.There were air shows featuring the Blue Angels, the Navy precision flying team. Days before the show, they came honking in,low and fast,causing the best house trained dogs to have an accident. RR and his pals would walk to the base on Saturday for the air show. I do not remember if it was these shows which started my lifelong enthusiasm for aviation, or the time my father said to me "Hear that?That's a B-29", pointing to a silver glint waaay up there. I later learned they were 'weather monitoring' flights.Dad, having served in the AAF and flown The Hump, knew B-29s when he heard them. Or was it the time I talked with Eddie Rickenbacker on a radio talk show? No matter. Hooked, poor sap, looking up at the most mundane aircraft, and getting really excited when something interesting passes overhead.

Interesting aircraft flew at the proms. First,a Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX, elegant lethality, flew. Magnificent. A pair of Fokker Dr.1's, full sized reproductions of the overrated German WWI fighter, still striking and able to turn on a floating dime, did their stuff next. One of the loveliest designs to fly, a DeHaviland DH89 Dragon Rapide, made her stately progress above our heads after the Fokkers. Spats on the undercarriage make her even more attractive. A Stearman Trainer, the 'Yellow Peril', flew next.She was followed by another jewel, a Hawker Hurricane. The last aircraft was an F4U Corsair: big, blue, and powerful. We were seated about 50-80 yards from their flightpath, and the power of that big radial could be felt from where we were sitting. She was not more than 40' off the deck. Glorious.

The reason we were able to see these aircraft fly was the venue. The Military Aviation Museum is a nest of aircraft restorers. They acquire these machines, fix 'em up, and fly most of them. Swell: remember, these are old and rare machines. One prang and they are scrap. I read of a Me109G6 flown in England, even after the Germans cautioned them about flying her too much.The DB605 engine in Messerschmitts, along with the Rolls Royce Merlins in Spitfires, were hand built precision machines. Machinists today, even with CAM, are not able to get the close tolerances necessary for these high performance engines.Guess what happened. The 109 was pranged, lightly; enough to tear up the the engine. This summer, two aircraft of the Commemorative Air Force here in the states crashed, two more off the roster of flying pieces of history.

Even so, if I hear of an airshow nearby, and the weather is good, I will pack up the sunscreen and the missus (a good trooper, she has crawled through a B-17 with me), and be there. See you near the flightline.


Barrett Bonden said...

Remove the internal "s" and your Shuttleworth will be perfect.

War was a good time for spotting aircraft. Harvards droning away, Lancasters asserting themselves, Mosquitoes later on. Plenty of Spitfires, fewer Hurricanes.

I've been to Duxford a couple times in the company of my mate from Holliston, Mass, now moved to a condo in Marblehead. He knew all the model numbers and his eyes were far sharper than mine. When the Me 109 came in to land (after a simulated dogfight with a Spitfire) I got distracted by something trivial while his gaze was fixed. He saw it lift laboriously over the hedge at the far end of the runway, just clear the adjacent M11 motorway and flip over in a field on the other side. Pilot OK but the Me's flying days were done. A flap had been left open, or had been closed.

I am so old I can remember Rapides providing a post-war service from Yeadon (Now Leeds Bradford airport) to the Isle of Man.

It seemed too easy to like Spitfires so I favoured Mosquitoes. Later I changed again to the Corsair, a very muscular plane I always thought. Something to do with that W shape. July 13, 2008,I wanted to demonstrate how someone with very light graphic skills could use Photoshop to great effect. I found a photo of a Corsair with part of the undercart obscured by runway garbage. Removed the garbage electronically and lo a before-and-after of the Corsair. Two comments, one by me. I think it was before you and I "met".

I liked the resurrection of the word "trooper" relative to the missus

Relucent Reader said...

A Mosquito: now there is something I would like to see fly. Quite an aircraft:the Germans late in the war tried to build a Mosquito catcher, the TA-154, also built of wood and twin engined. Adhesive failure put paid to that.
Rapides were 'round along time. A later aircraft, the DC-3, was seen by a young RR, as they flew for Cape Cod Airlines, a tiny regional outfit. One could also fly in one to Key West up through the '80s: I am not sure if that service is still available.
I always enjoy and look forward to your comments. Thank you for them.
Regards to you and Mrs. BB