’Vin­tage’ high­lights at Air­ven­ture

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS -

The EAA Air­ven­ture Oshkosh fly-in and con­ven­tion on 2329 July was among the best of re­cent times. A great va­ri­ety of in­ter­est­ing air­craft at­tended and the ‘show­plane’ park­ing ar­eas were at their fullest for some years, fea­tur­ing 2,979 air­craft over the week. This to­tal in­cluded 377 war­birds (seven per cent up on 2017) and 1,094 vin­tage types.

While the daily air­shows pre­sented rather too many sim­i­lar aer­o­batic dis­plays and dis­tant war­bird race­track pat­terns, there were nu­mer­ous ‘old timers’ high­lights. One was a mass launch of T-6 Tex­ans/har­vards for an ‘80’ for­ma­tion flypast in the type’s an­niver­sary year. It was good to see among them rare North Amer­i­can NA-64 Yale NX13397− the pro­duc­tion pro­to­type first flown on 12 Fe­bru­ary 1940. While des­tined for the French Air Force, it was in­stead sold to the Bri­tish Pur­chas­ing Com­mis­sion and en­tered RCAF ser­vice as ‘3464’. POST-WWII, the Yale was re­stored in Texas and, de­spite be­ing parked at Del Rio for 35 years, was picked up by John and Mark Cyrier in June 2015 who got it fly­ing again painted in its orig­i­nal mark­ings.

A dis­play by two for­mer US Army train­ing glid­ers, a Piper TG-8 (mod­i­fied J-3 Cub) and a Tay­lor­craft TG-6 (mod­i­fied Tay­lor­craft L-2) from the West­ern An­tique Aero­plane and Au­to­mo­bile Mu­seum at Hood River, Ore­gon was un­ex­pected. One of the best war­bird flights was per­formed by Dave Had­field in the Vin­tage Wings of Canada Spit­fire IX. Painted as MK304/ Y2-K, the air­craft flown by ‘Rosie’ Roland who lost his life in com­bat over France in July 1944, the Spit­fire was judged Re­serve Grand Cham­pion. One of the most ea­gerly awaited par­tic­i­pants was the World Her­itage Air Mu­seum’s Gloster Me­teor T7 WA591 (NX313Q), im­ported from Eng­land ear­lier this year by Marty Tib­bitts. Sadly, Tib­bitts was killed when his DH Venom crashed at She­boy­gan, WI en route to Oshkosh. The Me­teor was hon­oured as the Best Jet War­bird and, along with the Spit­fire, a Chip­munk and Jet Provost T5, formed part of the small RAF100 trib­ute.

World War II Grand Cham­pion was P-51C Mus­tang Lope’s Hope 3rd re­stored by Air­corps Aviation for Bruce Eames/texas Fly­ing Le­gends to rep­re­sent the air­craft flown by Lt Don­ald S Lopez dur­ing WWII. The Best Light Trans­port award went to Beech GB-2 Trav­eller N582/FT478, re­cently re­stored by West Coast Air Cre­ations of Flabob, CA for owner Granger Haugh. Best C-47 was the Commemorat­ive Air Force’s N47TB That’s All Brother, now ready for the ‘D-day Squadron’ trans-at­lantic cross­ing that will bring some twenty US-

based DC-3S and C-47s to IWM Dux­ford and Caen for June 2019’s ‘Daks over Nor­mandy’ event.

An­tique Grand Cham­pion this year was Greg and Cindy Heck­man’s fab­u­lous 1928 Lin­coln Page LP-3 C-5735. Re­stored over the last five years fol­low­ing decades in stor­age, it was flown on 31 May 2018−ex­actly ninety years af­ter its orig­i­nal first flight− and re­tains its pe­riod en­gine and in­stru­men­ta­tion. An­tique Re­serve Grand Cham­pion was Jim Ham­mond’s 1935 Aeronca LB N16262. Com­pleted and flown again by An­drew King in early July, it is the only air­wor­thy lowwing Aeronca of 65 built. Sil­ver Age (1928-36) Run­ner-up was an­other very rare type−glenn Peck’s 1931 Cur­tiss Wright 15-D Air Sedan NC436W, which he re­cently com­pleted restor­ing for the His­toric Air­craft Restora­tion Mu­seum at Creve Couer, Mis­souri.

RAF100 was cel­e­brated in the main ex­hi­bi­tion square with a se­lec­tion of EAA mu­seum ex­hibits that in­cluded Ker­mit Weeks’ DH Mos­quito RS712, a Tiger Moth and Pit­cairn au­t­o­gyro, plus a near-air­wor­thy DH4. Built in 1918 un­der-li­cence by the Day­tonWright com­pany and fit­ted with a 400hp Lib­erty en­gine, the DH4 is near­ing the end of its restora­tion in Ten­nessee. Ker­mit Weeks’ Sop­with Snipe and Pup, Fokker D.VIII and Al­ba­tros D.VA also took part, each tak­ing its turn in a daily en­gine run slot.

Oshkosh al­ways pro­duces the un­ex­pected and one in­stance oc­curred dur­ing Mon­day’s air­show. Jim Slat­tery’s two re­cently-re­stored F7F-3N Tigercats per­formed fast, tight paired passes. Af­ter land­ing, ‘374’/’JS’ N7629C, flown by War­birds of Amer­ica Pres­i­dent Con­nie Bowlin, suf­fered a wheel rim fail­ure. Af­ter a loud bang and a spec­tac­u­lar mag­ne­sium fire, the air­craft was brought to a con­trolled stop.

Yet again, a mem­o­rable Oshkosh. Next year (22-28 July 2019), even more vin­tage de­lights are promised by the EAA.

Re­port & pho­tos: Nigel Hitch­man

TOP: A high­light of the ‘Har­vard 80’ cel­e­bra­tion, the pro­to­type NA-64 Yale

ABOVE: Just 253 TG-8 ‘glider Cubs’ were pro­duced, this sur­vivor be­ing among Oshkosh’s sur­prises

An­tique award-win­ners in­cluded this mag­nif­i­cent Lin­coln Page LP-3…

… the only fly­ing low-winged Aeronca, 1935 LB N16262…

US D-day forces lead air­craft That’s All Brother was the win­ning C-47

Splen­did fly­ing from Dave Had­field in Re­serve Grand Cham­pion Spit­fire IX ‘MK304’

P-51C Mus­tang N6555B, a very pol­ished WWII Grand Cham­pion

The judges’ favourite light trans­port was this Rn-painted Beech GB-2 Trav­eller

Newly im­ported from the UK, Me­teor T7 WA591 was judged the Best Jet War­bird

… and 1931 Cur­tiss Wright 15-D Air Sedan NC436W

A rare shape among the RAF100 ex­hibits, the Pit­cairn au­t­o­gyro

Sop­with Snipe, one of four of Ker­mit Weeks' WWI air­craft at Air­ven­ture

ABOVE: It ended safely but Tiger­cat ‘374’s land­ing in­ci­dent was spec­tac­u­lar

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