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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On Saturday, I decided to go to the annual Open House at the Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum in Horsham, PA, on the site of the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station. I'm glad I went! I learned a lot, met some great folks, and got to see a bunch of cool old military aircraft up close and personal. Here are just a few of the 90+ photos I took:

Pitcairn Super Mailwing. Not military, but this plane deserved to be shown because of it's history relative to the museum. It was a gift of the Pitcairn family. These planes were built at this site, in a building that's still there (Willow Grove N.A.S. was originally Pitcairn Field) Harold Pitcairn was the originator of the concept of rotary-wing aircraft, but his fixed-wing craft like the Mailwing, a favorite of Air Mail contractors, came first. Pitcairn's Autogiros, a predecessor to today's helicoptors using an unpowered rotor, were quite popular in the 1930's:



This is Harold Pitcairn's original wooden model of the modern helicopter/autogiro rotorhead. Dating back to the late 1920's, it is still the basis for the rotorheads used to this day:



Bell H13-G "Sioux". You remember these nimble and dependable early helecopters from M*A*S*H*:



Gyrodyne QH-50C D.A.S.H. (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter). You thought drones were something new? This type goes all the way back to 1961! They were based on destroyers and other small ships for long-range submaring detection. In use through about 1980, most of these unique aircraft were destroyed as targets for missiles.



Convair YF-2Y "Sea Dart" Supersonic seaplane prototype. One of only 5 built, 4 remain. Proven to be an unsound concept due to salt spray being sucked into the jet engines.



Grumman F9F-2 "Panther". This was the main fighter/bomber used by U.S. forces in Korea. Combined, they amassed over 78,000 sorties. One Panther alone (not this one!) dropped over 400,000 lbs of bombs and fired more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition, wearing out 16 guns in the process! On top of all that, in my opinion it's just one great-looking warbird!



Bell UH-1V "Huey". The workhorse helicopter of the Army in Vietnam, used primarily for Air Cavalry insertion and extraction and air ambulance duty. A good friend of mine from work was a Huey pilot in Vietnam, and he told me that they would take all the abuse the enemy would throw at them. He had several of them shot up over his tour but never lost a one of them. Unfortunately, he did lose a soldier to a fluke bullet that came up through the floor of the aircraft:



North American FJ4-B "Fury Bravo". Most folks are more familiar with this plane by it's Army and Air Force designation of F-86 "Sabre". This is the Navy's carrier-based version of this versitile attack fighter/bomber. In service from 1956 through 1966, it saw much service in the early days of Vietnam:



If you're interested in more, here's a link to my Photobucket album of all the shots I took at the open house:

http://s1305.photobucket.com/user/C...3&page=1&_suid=139866448136706980801424656411

I haven't arranged them yet (I plan to do that soon... ), but I posted pics of the placards that go with all the planes so the info about them is there for you.
 

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Convair YF-2Y "Sea Dart" Supersonic seaplane prototype. One of only 5 built, 4 remain. Proven to be an unsound concept due to salt spray being sucked into the jet engines.
And it took all of five full-size prototypes to figure it out. ;)
All kidding aside, Convair was quite an innovative outfit in the field of aerospace.
Putting out some very unique and groundbreaking aircraft over the years - both production and conceptual.
Every advanced aircraft and rocket today owes a little bit to Convair.

And looking at the wooden rotor assembly, it's amazing how much hasn't changed.
Good stuff Jim, I love open houses. Especially with so many machines in one place.
The USS Midway Museum in San Diego is one place I've been passed, but have yet to visit.
There's also an aviation museum at the Marathon Airport down here in the Keys.


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The jet see plain is wicked!
The wooden model is an amazing piece. It really lets you see what's going on, and somehow makes it all look easier to understand.
Looks like I could build it with a bunch of car parts outta the bone yard!
 

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Nice photos, Jim. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Thanks for sharing your visit to the museum. Lots of real interesting things...

:wave:
 

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Love the old aviation stuff. If you are ever near Pensacola Fl. stop at the Navy base and look at all the oldies there. The Blue Angels are based there and if you time it right you can watch them practice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I mentioned a while back that, in addition to being a car nut, I'm also a big-time aviation buff. My dad got me into it when I was a real young'un. He was a private pilot and a member of the Civil Air Patrol for several decades, eventually making the rank of Major and being 2nd in command of his squadron, the 304th out of Montgomeryville, PA (That airport has been a mall for the past 2 decades... ). His great uncle, Eugene Ely, was the first pilot to successfully land on and take off from the deck of a ship, giving him the title "The Father of Naval Aviation". To land on the temporary flight deck built over the foredeck of the heavy cruiser Pennsylvania in San Francisco harbor (and later the cruiser Birmingham at Newport News as well), he mounted a hook on the tail structure of his Curtiss Pusher to snag ropes strung between heavy sandbags. He had about 10 sets of these "Arresting Ropes" set up prior to his landing. That technique became the basis for the arresting gear still used on carriers to this day, with steel cable replacing the ropes and hydraulic rams taking the place of the sandbags. Aviation is in my blood so much that my folks gave me the middle name Eugene, after my great-great uncle. Here are some historical photos from January 18, 1911:

"Uncle Eugene" aboard his Curtiss Pusher:



The Pennsylvania with it's temporary flight deck:



About to land on the Pennsylvania:



Final Approach. Notice the sand bags and ropes designed to stop the plane:



They Worked!



Here's a newspaper article from the next day:





("I think the trick could be successfully turned nine times out of ten"... Actually pretty decent odds for a test pilot less than a decade after the invention of the airplane!)

The Sea Dart is a favorite of mine, both from a design standpoint (she's an awesome looking bird, ain't she?) and the sheer audacity of the concept. Also, the naval aviation aspect of the plane in general appeals to me.

Lum, artist that you are, I'm sure that you could come up with a working model of that rotorhead assembley out of junkyard parts - tie rod ends, u-joints, shock absorbers, artistically semi-flattened driveshafts for the rotor blades, etc. It might not get you off the ground, but it would sure look cool! I'll see if I can get some more photos of it some time if you're interested in giving it a shot, or you can find shots of an actual production piece online. Let me know.
 

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Oh thanks Jim, it's a great idea, but I have enough 1:1 projects to keep me busy for quite some time.

Your father's great uncle sure had guts. That thing looks like it's really just a kite with an engine!
 

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Jim, your GG uncle must have had brass balls to land that flimsy thing on that narrow ship's deck. The pioneers of aviation were a brave, crazy bunch. I loved seeing those pix and reading the news item about the "aeroplane stunt". Great article - WOW... :freak:

:wave:
 

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Great aviation history, your family enjoyed flying very much. My Dad was into flying a great deal also. I had many hours with him as a child, he would fly on the weekends. The two planes we had were an open top red piper cub, 2 seats, one behind the other, and a green Cessna 4 seater, with controls on both sides. It was in the early sixties, its hard to recall all the details. But I'm sure your family history had much more to share. Great pictures from the museum, We have a "cradle of aviation" museum on Long Island, but I've yet to make the visit. Great Post Jim, thanks for sharing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Your father's great uncle sure had guts....
ALL of the pioneering test piolts of that era had guts... and usually wound up scattering them all over the countryside before the age of about 30! One miscalculation, a guywire not tightened quite well enough, one loose screw, a cloth panel covering a wing coming loose, and you're a greasy smudge on the farmer's field you were flying over. Flight was very much an inexact science in the pre WW-I days, and test pilots paid the price. Or think about Chuck Yeager, climbing out from the bomb bay of a modified B-29 into the cockpit of the Bell X-1 prior to his first supersonic flight. One slip and he'd have found out what it was like to fly without wings. You see, he didn't have a parachute on, since there wasn't enough room for one in the X-1. Charles Lindbergh didn't have a parachute when he flew the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis, either. Again, no room for one, but add in the fact that the weight of a parachute of the day would have meant that he would have had to make the flight with nearly 10 fewer gallons of fuel. Besides, what good would a parachute have done him over the Atlantic where nobody would have seen his plane go down. Life raft? Don't be ridiculous! MAJOR weight there, not to mention there was no place to stow it! The Spirit of St. Louis is basically just a set of three gas tanks with wings, a pilot seat, and an engine and propeller out front. Lindbergh designed the plane with one purpose in mind, and it succeeded at that purpose very well.

But look at just how far aviation has come in the 110 years since Orville and Wilbur first took wing at Kitty Hawk. When "Uncle Eugene" made his historic landing on the Pennsylvania, it was a rare day that you saw an airplane flying over. Today, people think nothing about getting on jetliners and fly away halfway around the world in climate-controlled, pressurized comfort and then they complain if the meal they're served isn't to their liking!

Mr.B.: Yeah, he had brass balls, all right, and they made for a major weight penalty... Those underpowered early airplanes had to be as light as possible! :lol:
 

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Nice read Jim!
 

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What an incredible story my friend! I love the pictures of the carrier landing, absolutely incredible.

I love hanging out around places like that, talking to the old guys, hearing stories and learning about the aircraft. It's always such a cool experience. There's a great little museum on the field in Lexington KY if you're ever down that way. I used to volunteer there a bit when I was working on my private. It's a cool place.
 

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If you ever get the opportunity go to Wright - Patterson Air Force Base on Dayton Ohio. It has a great air craft display. F-117, SR-72 are a couple of note and many other very cool planes that have been decommissioned over the years.
 

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Balboa Park is home of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, and "International Aerospace Hall of Fame".
Outside of it are a Convair Sea Dart, and a Lockheed A-12 (later developed into the SR-71 Blackbird).
If you can hoop a basketball, you can probably jump up and touch the Lockheed's starboard wingtip like I did.
It's kind of like touching a celebrity's hand. :lol:




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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
There's a great little museum on the field in Lexington KY if you're ever down that way...
My wife and I spent a very enjoyable week in Lexington in 2004 at the Corvair Society of America National Convention. The club was welcomed very warmly by the community as a whole, including allowing us to have a small parade of our cars down the main drag one evening. A local old-timey, single screen movie theater held a screening of the Tony Curtis/Jack Lemmon classic "The Great Race" just for us! Unfortunately, I didn't know about the local air museum, or we certainly would have made a point of checking it out!

If you ever get the opportunity go to Wright - Patterson Air Force Base on Dayton Ohio. It has a great air craft display. F-117, SR-72 are a couple of note and many other very cool planes that have been decommissioned over the years.
We went to the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB about a year after our trip to Lexington. My wife got bored after a few hours, but I very nearly closed the place down. Good thing she had a book in the car to keep herself entertained! The main hall with the B-52 sitting dead center as you enter left me awestruck. I mean, one (large) room with half a dozen famous experimental aircraft (including an X-15 and the lone remaining Valkyrie supersonic bomber prototype), an SR-71 and F-117 "Stealth", and numerous other warbirds that, until then, were just the stuff of TV, movies, and books to me. I must have spent 2 hours in the hall dedicated to WW II aircraft alone. "Bock's Car", the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki is there, as well as a P-51D "Mustang" and a couple of my other favorite fighters, a P-38 "Lightning" and a P-40 "Warhawk". What's there for an aviation history buff like myself NOT to like?

Waylon, we're not doing well enough financially to pack up and take a trip out San Diego way at the moment, but if we were, I'd want to do it... That photo is inspiration enough for me! It's incredible how a machine can look so beautiful and so deadly at the same time. And it wasn't deadly in and of itself - High-altitude photo reconnisance only. Oh yeah, and the ability to cross the continental United States in about an hour. That too. I think I read somewhere that the final flight of the SR-71 now in the Smithsonian's collection from (as I recall) San Diego to D.C. took 57 minutes after it's post-takeoff refueling. :thumbsup:
 

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My wife and I spent a very enjoyable week in Lexington in 2004 at the Corvair Society of America National Convention. The club was welcomed very warmly by the community as a whole, including allowing us to have a small parade of our cars down the main drag one evening. A local old-timey, single screen movie theater held a screening of the Tony Curtis/Jack Lemmon classic "The Great Race" just for us! Unfortunately, I didn't know about the local air museum, or we certainly would have made a point of checking it out!
I think I remember that actually. I was in middle school then but I remember seeing a bunch of Corvairs around town then haha.
 
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