Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Flight enthusiasts: Explore 'Aviation Fascination' at Mesa's Falcon Field

Step back in time inside the Sentimental Journey, a World War II-era restored B-17 bomber considered to be the best such restored airplane in the world.

Then, get back to the future and check out an AH-64 Apache Helicopter produced by Mesa-based Boeing,

Or, if you’re lucky, win a Cessna Skycatcher.

Those are just a few of the things flight enthusiasts can do at the Third Annual Aviation Fascination, an event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Commemorative Wing of the Air Force Museum at Falcon Field.

Admission to the event, which will feature more than 25 aircraft and is sponsored by the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and Boeing, is free.

Donations also are being taken for the United Food Bank of the East Valley’s canned food drive for Thanksgiving. Anyone who brings a non-perishable item will receive an extra free raffle ticket to have a chance to win a pair of round-trip tickets from Southwest Airlines.

The chamber has received a large amount of its support from Boeing, aviation and aerospace industries, and Thursday’s event, which is expected to attract more than 1,000 people, is a great way to showcase those industries, said Sean Barry, spokesman for the Mesa Chamber of Commerce.

“Look at the growing aviation and aerospace industry in the East Valley and how much the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport area has grown,” Barry said. “The event is a good way for the public to come and see some of the aspects of the industries in our area. You can’t go wrong with the Commemorative Wing of the Air Force Museum. Who doesn’t want to go out and see a B-17 bomber or an Apache helicopter?”

Museum volunteers of the Commemorative Wing of the Air Force Museum also are encouraging visitors to check out the ongoing exhibits featuring the Tuskegee Airmen, the WASPS (Women Air Service Pilots) and the P-40s aircraft Flying Tigers and consider purchasing rides on some of the aircraft at the field.

To win the four-seat 2012 Cessna Skycatcher, valued at $120,000, 10 people will be selected from the raffles and then play a series of games where the winner will be selected from a process of elimination.

Aviation Fascination

What: Event to showcase aviation and aerospace industries in the East Valley

When: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

Where: Commemorative Wing of the Air Force Museum at Falcon Field, 2017 N. Greenfield Road, Mesa.

Cost: Admission is free. Raffle tickets for a chance to win a 2012 four-seat Cessna Skycatcher are $1 each or six for $5.

Information: (480) 969-1307, ext. 25 or www.aviationfascination.com

Source:    http://www.eastvalleytribune.com

Drone plane to fly over museum

A World War II drone aircraft – called radioplanes in those days – has taken its place in the Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks.  Radioplanes were controlled by radio like today’s model planes. They were used by anti-aircraft pilots and gunners for training and target practice.  The drone, an Army OQ-2, was donated by the late Jon Aldridge and is one of only four or five originals still in existence. It was in storage at the museum at 2305 East Kearney until last January when veteran Gene Putman took it to his home shop in Fordland to begin restoration.

Putman explained that the OQ-2 was a simple fabric covered aircraft, powered by a Righter two-cycle piston engine that provided seven horsepower and drove two contra-rotating propellers. Launch was from a catapult or conventional runway, and recovery was either by runway or parachute. It could fly for an hour and had a top speed of 90 mph.   “It weighs 108 pounds with fuel and battery. The fabric makes it light,” said Putman.

He added that when the parachute is deployed, a latch opens a spring-loaded door (on top) containing the parachute which flips the ignition switch to kill the engine.  Putman replaced the fabric on wings, control surfaces and fuselage. He fabricated missing components that could not be located, then painted it the original bright red with white on the wing’s top side.  The aircraft is for display only so no fuel or oil will be added.

“This plane was the first of the drones and they have progressed into what we have today,” Putman said, adding that the museum has a later version called the OQ-19 that’s all metal.   “It was used later like in the Korean War and afterward in the ‘60s. The later one was made by McCulloch and has a four-cylinder engine. It could fly at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour.”  Veteran Tom Johnson said the plane was placed in a prominent place, visible right after people come into the museum.

Story and photos:   http://www.news-leader.com

About the museum

What:  Museum projects include attending aircraft shows, restoration of vintage military equipment and a program of true history and science for young students called Museum School.

Location:  2305 East Kearney Street, Springfield, MO

Hours:  The museum is open from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Admission:  Adults $5; kids age 6-12, $3, five and under free.  Birthday parties are available as are special rates for groups of 10 or more by appointment. Also donations are appreciated.

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Historic B-17 bomber flies to honor vets, educate public

Capt. Albert J. Lane was 9 years old when a plane landed just yards from him as he was walking down a gravel road to the one-room schoolhouse where he went to school in Mason, Mich. 

It was the first time Lane had ever seen an airplane, but he was already fascinated with flying from reading the Red Baron comic strips about the famous World War I pilot. That enthusiasm drove him to volunteer for military service in the Air Force in his early 20s.

Now 90, Lane sat aboard the Memphis Belle — a B-17 bomber plane exactly like the one he piloted over Italy, Germany and Austria in World War II — as it took off from the Tallahassee Regional Airport on Monday.

The plane stopped in Tallahassee as part of the Liberty Foundation’s 2012 Salute to Veterans tour, which shows the Memphis Belle around the United States, educating the public on World War II history and allowing them to fly on the plane. Since 2005, the Liberty Foundation has flown to more than 50 cities.

The Liberty Foundation is a nonprofit from Douglas, Ga., founded by Don Brooks to honor his father, a tailgunner on a B-17 called the Liberty Belle in World War II, the thousands who served in the 91st Bomb Group that used the B-17s and the many who fought for the Allies.

The Memphis Belle that flew over Tallahassee and the Veterans Day parade Monday is one of only 13 B-17s flying today. The plane was built in 1945 and never saw combat. It now serves as a replica to the famous Memphis Belle plane and crew, which were the first to successfully complete their mission in World War II with every crew member surviving the 25 missions. Dubbed the “Flying Fortress” for its amount of defensive firepower, the original Memphis Belle went down on its 64th mission.

In 1990, the Memphis Belle was used in the film “Memphis Belle,” based on the crew of the original bomber.

Throughout the ride, Lane continually pointed out the plane’s interior workings, the outward expression of a passion for planes and a need to inform a generation that seems so far removed from the war experiences of those commonly known as “the greatest generation.”

It had been more than 60 years since Lane had been in a bomber, something he never thought he’d do again. The flight brought back memories.

“Every mission you generally say, ‘Well maybe I’ll make this, maybe I’ll make this one,’ ” said Lane.

Of the over 12,000 B-17 bombers constructed during World War II, a third were destroyed in combat with each plane carrying 10 crew members, according to Ron Gause, one of the pilots of the Memphis Belle for the Liberty Foundation.

Gause said the “icing on the cake” to educating the younger generations throughout the country is having World War II veterans fly in the planes years later and tell their stories.

“When they tell us the things that happened to them, you cannot write a book of fiction that comes close to comparing what happened to our men during combat,” Gause said.

Story:   http://www.tallahassee.com

2012 “Salute to Veterans” tour

If you go

• The Memphis Belle will offer public tours Sunday at the Tallahassee Regional Airport. $450 per person for a 25-30 minute flight experience. Ground tours also offered following flights.
• For more information visit, Libertyfoundation.org or call, 918-340-0243.