Flight Journal http://www.flightjournal.com Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:29:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 On This Day in Aviation History http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/21/on-this-day-in-aviation-history-401/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/21/on-this-day-in-aviation-history-401/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:28:09 +0000 Mike Harbour http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215254

1891 – Birth of Alan Machin Wilkinson, British World War I fighter ace who also served in World War II. 1916 – First flight of the Breguet 14 (shown), a French biplane bomber and reconnaissance aircraft; it is the first aircraft in mass production to use large amounts of metal rather than wood in its [...]

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1891 – Birth of Alan Machin Wilkinson, British World War I fighter ace who also served in World War II.

1916 – First flight of the Breguet 14 (shown), a French biplane bomber and reconnaissance aircraft; it is the first aircraft in mass production to use large amounts of metal rather than wood in its structure.

1941 – The Royal Air Force’s No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight, nicknamed “the Rafwaffe,” is formed to evaluate captured enemy aircraft and demonstrate their characteristics to other Allied units.

1973 – Death of Alfred Hubert Roy Fedden, British engineer who designed most of Bristol Engine Co.’s successful aircraft engine designs.

1981 – Aeroflot is banned from flying to the U.S. after an earlier flight of the Soviet carrier strayed from its flight path and overflew American military installations.

2004 – China Eastern Airlines Flight 5210, a Bombardier CRJ-200LR, crashes into a park shortly after take off, killing all 53 and two on the ground.

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Army Restructures Aviation Units, Assets http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/21/army-restructures-aviation-units-assets/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/21/army-restructures-aviation-units-assets/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:24:57 +0000 Mike Harbour http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215249

The U.S. Army will inactivate the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade this year, officials announced Thursday. The 159th CAB is the first of three aviation brigades expected to be cut as part of a five-year aviation restructuring initiative. The other two have not been announced. The 159th, which recently returned from Afghanistan, is one of two combat [...]

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The U.S. Army will inactivate the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade this year, officials announced Thursday.

The 159th CAB is the first of three aviation brigades expected to be cut as part of a five-year aviation restructuring initiative. The other two have not been announced. The 159th, which recently returned from Afghanistan, is one of two combat aviation brigades in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.

“Fort Campbell is the only installation where we’ve got two aviation brigades,” said Col. John Lindsay, director of aviation for the Army G-3. “Following the inactivation of [the 159th], we’ll have the 101st [CAB] on hand to continue to support training and operational requirements for the 101st Airborne Division.”

For the complete story by Michelle Tan of ArmyTimes.com, click here.

Photo by U.S. Army

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On This Day in Aviation History http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/20/on-this-day-in-aviation-history-400/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/20/on-this-day-in-aviation-history-400/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:31:06 +0000 Mike Harbour http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215244

1913 – Frenchman Jules Vedrines, in a Blériot monoplane, takes off from Nacy, France, for Cairo, Egypt. The flight will take one month. 1917 – Death of Edward Patrick Hartigan, Irish World War I flying ace, and his observer, David Sidney Hall, a Scottish World War I flying ace; they are killed in action in [...]

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1913 – Frenchman Jules Vedrines, in a Blériot monoplane, takes off from Nacy, France, for Cairo, Egypt. The flight will take one month.

1917 – Death of Edward Patrick Hartigan, Irish World War I flying ace, and his observer, David Sidney Hall, a Scottish World War I flying ace; they are killed in action in their Airco DH.4.

1945 – First flight of the Saab 91 Safir (shown), a Swedish single-engine trainer.

1945 – The Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Pacusan Dreamboat” sets a world nonstop distance record of 8,198 miles on a flight from Guam to Washington, D. C.

1968 – Birth of James Patrick “Mash” Dutton Jr., U.S. Air Force test pilot and NASA astronaut.

2007 – A Royal Air Force HC.1 Puma crashes in an urban area during a covert mission over Baghdad; two troopers from the 22 Special Air Service Regiment perish and two are injured. The remaining seven SAS and three RAF personnel survive the impact and are later rescued.

 

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Seahawk, Fire Scout Deploy Together http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/20/seahawk-fire-scout-deploy-together-for-first-time/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/20/seahawk-fire-scout-deploy-together-for-first-time/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:09:57 +0000 Mike Harbour http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215227

An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and MQ-8B Fire Scout are deploying together on the same ship — a first for manned and unmanned integration aboard a surface combatant. On Monday, a detachment that included one Sikorsky Seahawk and one Northrop Grumman Fire Scout from the “Magicians” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35 deployed aboard the littoral [...]

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An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and MQ-8B Fire Scout are deploying together on the same ship — a first for manned and unmanned integration aboard a surface combatant.

On Monday, a detachment that included one Sikorsky Seahawk and one Northrop Grumman Fire Scout from the “Magicians” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35 deployed aboard the littoral combat ship Fort Worth as it begins a 16-month rotation in the Western Pacific based out of Singapore.

The 24-sailor aviation detachment left San Diego and will spend approximately four months underway before it is relieved by a second detachment from the Magicians. Detachments 3 and 4 will follow until the ship’s 16-month rotation is complete. Officials said Fire Scouts and Seahawks will deploy on a similar four-month schedule on other vessels.

For the complete story by Joshua Stewart of NavyTimes.com, click here

Photo by U.S. Navy

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Aviation Employees, We Have The Website For You! http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/20/aviation-employees-we-have-the-website-for-you/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/20/aviation-employees-we-have-the-website-for-you/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:00:25 +0000 Holly Hansen http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215229

If you work within the aviation industry, you should get yourself familiar with Aviation Jobsearch. They are a fast growing aviation only job board, who launched in the USA earlier this year. They’ve been connecting aviation companies and jobseekers across Europe for over 15 years now and have successfully established themselves as the market leading job [...]

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If you work within the aviation industry, you should get yourself familiar with Aviation Jobsearch.

They are a fast growing aviation only job board, who launched in the USA earlier this year. They’ve been connecting aviation companies and jobseekers across Europe for over 15 years now and have successfully established themselves as the market leading job board for the roles they cover.
Due to high demand from US jobseekers, and much to the delight of Flight Journal, they felt it was time for a US only aviation site.
Online job boards have soared in popularity along with the rise of the internet. They are quickly overtaking traditional job search channels, such as staffing firms and through print advertising.
From a jobseekers perspective, this makes the process of job hunting so much easier because sites such as Aviation Jobsearch are available 24 hours a day, they are easy to keep up to date with the latest roles and best of all, they’re free to use!
Already they have a wide range of prestigious companies advertising their latest vacancies.
They showcase jobs from a variety of airlines, such as Air CanadaExpress Jet  &  Spirit Airlines.
As well as from manufacturing companies, such as Bombardier and Ametek and other specialist aviation companies offering a variety of services too.
If you’re looking for something different, AMERICAN SYSTEMS are even advertising for candidates for their F-35 joint strike fighter program at Edwards AFB.
Post your resume onto Aviation Jobsearch today and then you can apply for jobs at the click of a button.
And if you fancy staying one step ahead of everyone else, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter too!
Who said job hunting was hard?

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On This Day in Aviation History http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/on-this-day-in-aviation-history-399/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/on-this-day-in-aviation-history-399/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:46:24 +0000 Mike Harbour http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215209

1882 – Birth of Aurel Vlaicu, Romanian engineer, inventor, airplane constructor and early pilot. 1922 – Death of George Edgar Bruce Lawson, South African World War I flying ace; he is killed in a crash while flying as a passenger aboard an Airco DH.9. 1937 – First flight of the Savoia-Marchetti S.83, an Italian three-engine [...]

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1882 – Birth of Aurel Vlaicu, Romanian engineer, inventor, airplane constructor and early pilot.

1922 – Death of George Edgar Bruce Lawson, South African World War I flying ace; he is killed in a crash while flying as a passenger aboard an Airco DH.9.

1937 – First flight of the Savoia-Marchetti S.83, an Italian three-engine monoplane airliner; it is the civilian version of the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bomber.

1956 – The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF Lockheed F-16D Fighting Falcon shown) is formed.

1998 – A NASA ER-2 research aircraft (a variant of the Lockheed U-2) sets a world record for altitude of 67,190 feet in horizontal flight in the 26,000-to-35,000-pound weight class.

2009 – Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation Flight 3711, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82, overruns the runway upon landing at Goma International Airport, suffering substantial damage. The overrun area is contaminated by solidified lava.

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Nigeria May Be First Scorpion Customer http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/nigeria-may-be-first-scorpion-customer/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/nigeria-may-be-first-scorpion-customer/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 22:32:16 +0000 Mike Harbour http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215178

Nigeria is considering acquiring the Textron AirLand Scorpion light strike and surveillance jet as it looks to combat Islamist militants operating within its borders, a senior air force official disclosed on Tuesday. Speaking under the Chatham House Rule at the IQPC Fighter Conference in London, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) officer said that the Scorpion [...]

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Nigeria is considering acquiring the Textron AirLand Scorpion light strike and surveillance jet as it looks to combat Islamist militants operating within its borders, a senior air force official disclosed on Tuesday.

Speaking under the Chatham House Rule at the IQPC Fighter Conference in London, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) officer said that the Scorpion would be very well suited to the west African country’s current struggle against the Boko Haram extremist organisation.

“Right now in the Nigerian Air Force we have equipment that is obsolete and with a low [availability],” he said. “The air force needs a rapid response capability, with a concentration of precision firepower. In our country we want [the Scorpion], and we need it.” The official told IHS Jane’s that the NAF will make its case to the government shortly, and that it hopes to acquire “a squadron’s worth” of Scorpion aircraft initially, although this number may rise in the future.

For the complete story by Gareth Jennings of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, click here.

Photo by Textron

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In Theater: What They Wore http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/in-theater-what-they-wore/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/in-theater-what-they-wore/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:09:46 +0000 Kate Pierpont http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215191

By Robert F. Dorr and Charles E. DiSipio The P-47 Thunderbolt pilot of 1945 wore and carried lots of stuff, and little of it gave meaning to the military term “uniform.” At Metz, France, in January 1945, the group and squadron commanders of the “Hell Hawks” 365th Fighter Group, posed in their gear in front [...]

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By Robert F. Dorr and Charles E. DiSipio

The P-47 Thunderbolt pilot of 1945 wore and carried lots of stuff, and little of it gave meaning to the military term “uniform.” At Metz, France, in January 1945, the group and squadron commanders of the “Hell Hawks” 365th Fighter Group, posed in their gear in front of a wrecked Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf 190. The men are from left to right: Major George R. “Bob” Brooking, 386th Fighter Squadron; Maj. John W. Motzenbecker (387th FS); Colonel Ray J. Stecker (group commander); and Major Robert M. Fry (388th FS).

This shot illustrates the variety of gear worn by Army Air Forces (AAF) fighter pilots in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) — in this case Ninth Air Force pilots on the European continent. It shows how availability and preference influenced what was worn. Starting from left:

Brooking wears the AAF B-8 back chute with AAF parachute first aid kit tied to the harness just below his elbow, B-10 flying jacket, early-version AN-H-15 summer flying helmet in cotton with AN-H-B1 headset, AAF B-8 goggles, A-14 oxygen mask, U. S. Army Enlisted Men’s 18 oz. Special Light Shade Olive Drab (shade 32) serge wool trousers, and U. S. Army parachutist’s boots
(jump boots).

Motzenbecker wears B-8 back chute, B-10 flying jacket, late-model Royal Air Force (RAF) type “C” leather flying helmet (likely with an AAF AN-H-B-1 headset), RAF Mk VIII goggles, A-14 oxygen mask with special RAF wiring produced for use with U. S. microphones (if the aircraft was outfitted with a U. S. radio, there was also an adaptor to first plug into before connecting to the radio), U. S. Army Officer’s Drab (shade 54 -“pinks”) Elastique Wool Trousers, U. S. Army combat boots with two-buckle cuff and not yet dubbed for water resistance (at this time, these boots were still not on large-scale issue in
the ETO).

Stecker, the group commander, wears AAF B-8 back chute, the coveted, venerable A-2 flying jacket in russet brown leather, U. S. Army Type II horsehide gloves still fairly new and revealing their natural, tan coloring (the most typical glove of ETO fighter pilots), silk or nylon scarf likely made from a parachute canopy, AN-H-15 summer flying helmet in cotton with reinforcements for snaps (either applied to an early helmet by parachute riggers or a later version as outfitted from the factory), AN-H-B1 headset, RAF Mk VIII goggles, AAF A-14 oxygen mask with special RAF wiring produced for use with U. S. microphones, U. S. Army Officer’s Olive Drab (shade 51) Dark Elastique wool trousers, and U. S. Army parachutist jump boots.

Fry wears RAF seat chute (highly sought after due to its quick-release turnbuckle on the chest) with attached AAF parachute first aid kit tied to harness near silver-metal ripcord housing, AAF seat cushion sandwiched between seat parachute pack and RAF type “K” seat dinghy container (cushions weren’t usually used with “K” dinghy kits, and when they were, they were usually placed on top of the container to better cushion your butt), AAF B-2 jungle survival kit back pad (not uncommon in the ETO), which housed a multitude of survival items and is easily identified by the silver zipper chain in this photo, AAF A-2 leather flying jacket in dark seal brown, U. S. Army Type II horsehide gloves well-used and very soiled, late-model RAF type “C” leather flying helmet (likely with AAF headset AN-H-B-1) and RAF Mk VIII goggles, AAF A-14 oxygen mask with special RAF wiring produced for use with U. S. microphones, U. S. Army Enlisted Men’s 18 oz. Special Light Shade Olive Drab (shade 32) serge wool trousers of the later design with flap on rear pocket, and U. S. Army parachutist jump boots.

Among the four leaders, the only common elements of flying gear are the absence of life vests and presence of A-14 oxygen masks and the special RAF wiring. The absence of life vests confirms these pilots believe they have little chance of ditching or bailing out over water, yet Fry still has his RAF “K” dinghy kit on his seat chute, which is likely because it contained many useful survival items, it was too troublesome to remove (and replace if needed at a later date), and his P-47’s seat was already adjusted to allow for his height while wearing the dinghy kit. It’s also fairly safe to assume that, due to the extreme cold at the time, all would have been wearing long underwear, and the two pilots in A-2 jackets, if not all of these men, would have been wearing sweaters under their jackets. The pilots with B-8 back chutes also would have had seat cushions and, almost certainly, RAF “K” dinghy kits of a different type designed for back chutes (the parachute harnesses they wear have the female attaching clips in place for the RAF “K” dinghy kits); the dinghy kits would have been hand carried or delivered to their aircraft by vehicle, in most instances, but may have been left on the aircraft seat (far less likely).  j

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In Theater: In Support of D-Day http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/in-theater-in-support-of-d-day/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/in-theater-in-support-of-d-day/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:14:20 +0000 Kate Pierpont http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215187

By Stan Piet P-47D UN-V, named “Pat,” from the famed 56th FG, 63rd FS, prepares for another fighter sweep in support of the invasion.  The second mount of Capt. Gordon S. Stevens, it survived until early September, being lost with Capt. Roy Fling at the controls. Stevens himself was lost in a “Pat” replacement on [...]

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By Stan Piet

P-47D UN-V, named “Pat,” from the famed 56th FG, 63rd FS, prepares for another fighter sweep in support of the invasion.  The second mount of Capt. Gordon S. Stevens, it survived until early September, being lost with Capt. Roy Fling at the controls. Stevens himself was lost in a “Pat” replacement on the 18th of September, a victim of flak over Belgium.

From its inception, the 56th was destined for excellence and historical significance. As the first fighter group to be challenged, and possibly intimidated, by Republic’s new radial-engined beast, the group took on that mission and remained faithful to its charge till the end of hostilities.

As part of a pre-war build-up of 35 Army Air Forces combat groups, the 56th Pursuit Group was activated on paper in January 1941, initially at Savannah, Georgia, then activated in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late May after the first flight of the XP-47B. Training of the group’s three squadrons (61st, 62nd, and 63rd) was accomplished with weary P-36 and early P-39s as the 56th worked up to effectiveness with war games exercises and then on East Coast anti-sub patrols after the Pearl Harbor attack. In January 1942, the group was scattered around the New Jersey and New York City area with one squadron based by the Republic Farmingdale factory on Long Island. While Republic was ramping up P-47 production, the group trained in a few newly arrived P-38Es with expectations that they would take Lightnings into service. But Lockheed production delays laid fortune upon the 56th when the 63rd Squadron received the first production B model Thunderbolts.

Wrestling the type to combat effectiveness, the group soon confronted the compressibility boundary and identified other needed improvements that were soon incorporated into the C model.  In January of 1943, orders embarked the 56th, with its service group, aboard the liner Queen Elizabeth. Initially based at Kings Cliffe in April, the 56th moved to better accommodations at RAF Horsham St Faith, near Norwich.

Early problems with the new HF radios delayed operations until April 8,  when the Thunderbolts began high-altitude “Rodeo” sweeps over the French coast with the 4th and 78th Groups. Under the seasoned leadership of Col. “Hub” Zemke the 56th expanded its operating area adding fuel-limiting bomber escort (Ramrod) missions with the developing Eighth Air Force. Over the next year, fighter tactics evolved that, with added external tanks, allowed penetrations to the German border.  In mix-ups with the Luftwaffe, “Zemke’s Wolfpack” concentrated on dive and recovery-style attacks.  The group made two moves in that period, initially to the undesired Halesworth, Suffolk, and finally to Boxted in April 1944.

With the lifting of ground strafing prohibition by General James Doolittle in February 1944, the 56th embarked on a more perilous phase of endeavor that affected several of their key pilots with shoot down and internments. D-Day and the following period saw the group hang on to its trusted mounts as other P-47 groups transitioned to the Mustang for long-range escort.

The late advent of the high-performance P-47M in January 1945, exclusively to the 56th, presaged a return to its previous Ramrod role but teething problems with the engine’s manufacture limited their effect.  By then, a neutered Luftwaffe relegated the group to strafing out the war, although some jet kills were made in April.  All told, the 56th was credited with 664 aerial kills, leading all ETO units, and ensuring it place in the annals of military aviation history.

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Aviation Insider: A Tale of the Times http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/aviation-insider-a-tale-of-the-times/ http://www.flightjournal.com/blog/2014/11/19/aviation-insider-a-tale-of-the-times/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:02:50 +0000 Kate Pierpont http://www.flightjournal.com/?p=215183

We’ll lose the XC-99 and it won’t be alone   By Robert F. Dorr Big, historic airplanes could be the aeronautical definition of “conundrum” for museum people. No one wants to see a truly historic airplane, such as the XC-99 disintegrate into powdery oxide while in outside storage. However, the realities of space and financing determine [...]

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We’ll lose the XC-99 and it won’t be alone 

 By Robert F. Dorr

Big, historic airplanes could be the aeronautical definition of “conundrum” for museum people. No one wants to see a truly historic airplane, such as the XC-99 disintegrate into powdery oxide while in outside storage. However, the realities of space and financing determine the prioritization for every museum of any size: some aircraft are just not likely to be saved. The tale of the XC-99 is long and arduous and, unfortunately, typical of what faces many, big airplanes.

The term “magnesium overcast” seems to fit the XC-99, the colossal, one-of-a-kind cargo version of the B-36 bomber.

The six-engined, 265,000-pound XC-99 made extensive use of the tricky, flammable metal. It was big enough, with its 230-foot wingspan, to come close to blotting out the sun.

Today, efforts to preserve and display the XC-99 appear to be at a hiatus.

At the request of Flight Journal, retired Lieutenant General Jack Hudson, director of the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, issued this statement:

“The staff of the NMUSAF has determined that our current restoration and exhibit resources and manpower must be redirected and focused to meet our critical near term requirements of enhancing current public galleries, such as Cold War, as well as preparing for our new fourth building and its four additional galleries. These near term requirements, along with the budget and manpower reductions, will not allow for the needed care, attention, and restoration of the XC-99 in the foreseeable future.”

The mortal remains of the XC-99, moved from San Antonio, Texas, to Dayton at huge difficulty a decade ago, are being moved again to the boneyard in Arizona. The villain: the federal budget squeeze.

 

XC-99 upbringing

Designed in 1942, the XC-99 had a spacious, double-deck interior designed to carry 400 combat troops or 101,000 pounds of cargo. The XC-99 was powered by six 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-4360-35 radial engines rated at 3,000hp each. It was the largest aircraft in the world in the 1950s and remains the largest propeller-driven aircraft ever built.

Testing began on November 23, 1947. The XC-99 entered service two years later. It was stationed from 1949 to 1957 at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. In 1951 and 1952, the plane carried seven million pounds of equipment and supplies supporting the Korean War effort.

As a teenager, I had a memorable tour of the XC-99 when it visited Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC in May 1954.

The tabloid Washington Daily News published an air-to-air, black and white photo of the XC-99 arriving for the Armed Forces Day show at Bolling. Visible in the photo were Fort McNair and Bolling, with its busy runways and ramp, as well as the engine nacelle of the TB-25N Mitchell carrying the photographer. I wrote to the paper requesting an 8 by 10 print. The Daily News wrote back and said I’d have to send them a dollar. I did. The paper went out of business soon afterward so mine may be the only copy of this portrait of a flying behemoth.

People gawked whenever the XC-99 appeared at an air show. At one event, when it was still an operational aircraft, a woman asked pilot Captain Jim C. Douglas, “How will you move this thing from here?”

Douglas replied, “We fly it, lady.”

The woman retorted, “Young man, what kind of a fool do you take me for?”

By 1957, the condition of the six-engined XC-99 was such that $1 million in immediate maintenance would have been needed to keep it aloft. The big plane was always difficult to load, lacking the “roll on, roll off” capability of today’s airlifters, Repairs were deemed uneconomical. The Air Force withdrew the plane from service.

Thereafter, the XC-99 had several owners until 1993 when the Kelly Heritage Foundation acquired it and towed it back onto the base. “We were about to renovate the XC-99 when Kelly was placed on the closure list by the 1995 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission,” said Duane Simpkins of the foundation in a 1998 interview. The foundation has not updated its web site for several years and did not respond to an FJ inquiry. Also in 1998, retired Major General Charles Metcalf, then director of the Air Force Museum (now the NMUSAF) told me he hoped the XC-99 could be saved but was “pretty pessimistic.”

The condition of the aircraft had deteriorated badly, in part because magnesium does not hold up under the elements.

That year, some of the XC-99 was in the museum’s restoration hangar, but most of it was in San Antonio awaiting movement. Museum spokesman Robert J. Bardua said restorers had the leading and trailing edges of the wings, wingtips, horizontal and vertical stabilizers, flight controls, tail section, engines and propellers. The rest would come later, Bardua said.

 

The traveling XC-99

Among XC-99 buffs, two myths have taken hold. The first is that the Air Force missed an opportunity to fly the plane to its museum in Dayton in 1957 for the price of fuel. The second myth is that, today, nobody in the Air Force cares. A flight to Dayton was nixed in 1957 because the cost of making the XC-99 airworthy for a one-time trip was prohibitive. Many with an interest in the aircraft worked to save it. I published an opinion piece in the trade journal Air Force Times in 1998. With enormous effort and expenditure, the XC-99 — in derelict condition — travelled by land from San Antonio to Dayton. Efforts to restore it moved in fits and starts.

It was always a challenge, in both technical and fiscal terms, The April 3 statement — gotten for us by Bardua, who is on the job 16 years later— confirms that this is the wrong budgetary era for a challenge of this magnitude.

Curiously, no one seems to have considered an obvious alternative — the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. When I visited Dover recently, AMC Museum director Mike Leister had not heard that plans to restore the XC-99 in Dayton had been dropped.

 

A far-out prospect

Leister told me his museum would face the same challenges as the NMUSAF, He does not have funds to move the XC-99 from Dayton to Dover and would want to be better informed before working with magnesium. But Leister said he has the space, the expertise, and the volunteers to restore the XC-99. He and his staff restore large aircraft constantly. They currently display the only C-5 Galaxy on exhibit for the general public.

To me, the situation is déjà vu. I had a small role in preventing the XC-99 from rotting in San Antonio. By all accounts, it is too late now to prevent it from being placed in storage in Arizona. As a longtime supporter of the AMC Museum in Dover, I would love it if the XC-99 could be moved there, but grim realism tells me it isn’t going to happen.

The NMUSAF statement concludes: “As this aircraft is important to the NMUSAF collection and we do have concerns regarding its continued storage in the harsh Ohio climate. [Moving the aircraft to Arizona] will provide the best possible security and storage conditions until such time as final long term plans might be completed.”

It’s impossible not to think of other examples of heavy iron that should have been preserved but weren’t — the Junkers Ju 290 scrapped at Wright Field in 1947 (captured after World War II and brought here), the Lockheed R6O-1 Constitution (two built) and the Douglas C-74 Globemaster (14 built).

These aircraft would make eye-watering, educational displays and we’ve lost all of them. The combination of lack of interest, costs, and space worked against them. It’s a process that repeats itself entirely too often.

The jury is still out on the XC-99, but all signs suggest we’ll lose it too.

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