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Grumman’s Ace Maker: F6F Hellcat

Grumman’s Ace Maker: F6F Hellcat

by Budd Davisson Okay, so we’ll admit it: just about every successful fighter of WWII was sleeker and sexier than a Hellcat. However, when it comes to fighters, “beauty is in the doing” and the Hellcat could do it. In spades! In terms of what it contributed to victory, it was the uncontested King of […]
SE-5a: A Fokker’s Worst Nightmare

SE-5a: A Fokker’s Worst Nightmare

by Budd Davisson When World War One broke out in 1914, the airplane was barely eleven years old and was nothing more than a plodding, noisy kite barely more dangerous than an observation balloon. As a weapon, it was difficult to take seriously. Four short years later it had been transformed into a multi-dimensional weapon […]

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Pitts Special: The soul of the man lives on

Pitts Special: The soul of the man lives on

by Budd Davisson Okay, let’s get one thing absolutely clear: the Pitts Special is NOT, repeat NOT, just an airplane. I know some people think that it is, but ask any long time Pitts driver and we’ll all tell you the same thing: there are airplanes and there are Pitts Specials and the two shouldn’t […]
Super Stearman: Bulging Biplane Biceps

Super Stearman: Bulging Biplane Biceps

What do you get when you take any airplane and more than double its horsepower? For one thing you get much bigger grins every time you move the throttle forward for takeoff. The 450 Stearman, the so-called “Super Stearman,” is a classic case in point. Originally born with a puny 220 hp, W-670 Continental radial […]

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P-51 Mustang: John Landers and “Big Beautiful Doll”

P-51 Mustang: John Landers and “Big Beautiful Doll”

One thing we often forget is that war is always fought by kids and, in the case of WW II aviators, that meant they were also extremely inexperienced. When I flew my first fighter, which happened to be the Mustang, I was 29 years old and had nearly 2,500 hours of flight time in a […]
Travelair Mystery Ship: Model “R” for Racing

Travelair Mystery Ship: Model “R” for Racing

Dawn of a New Era It was September 2nd, 1929 and before the day was over, the world of military airplanes had been changed forever.As Doug Davis roared across the finish line and took the checkered flag at Cleveland that afternoon, he had done more than win a race. He and the red and black […]

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F/A-18 Hornet: a Dynasty in the Making

F/A-18 Hornet: a Dynasty in the Making

The Hornet has been a highly controversial airplane from the day it was initially proposed. Hornet detractors point at their hero, the massive F-14, and say the Hornet isn’t worthy of following in that great airplane’s steps. No range, no load, no nothin’. Well, folks, guess what? Right or wrong, the Tomcat’s on it’s way […]
F8 Wings Folded

F8 Wings Folded

On January 22, 1968, I was a young LTJG at Miramar, attached to Navy Fighter Squadron VF-53 preparing for a deployment to Vietnam aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard. As a final part of the pre-deployment regimen, all pilots were briefed to fly [ FMLP ] Field Mirror Landing Practice about 2100 that night. This was our last chance […]

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Extra 300S: Patty Wagstaff and her Magic Machine

Extra 300S: Patty Wagstaff and her Magic Machine

If you’ve ever seen her fly, you’ll never forget it. She’s razzle-dazzle personified. If you meet her and spend a few moments with her, you’ll come away with much the same feeling. It’ll be obvious that the pilot fits the airplane. Or is it the other way around? Patty exudes confidence laced with huge amounts […]
DeHavilland Comet: Wooden Artistry

DeHavilland Comet: Wooden Artistry

In 1934 the public still viewed aviation as something special. In fact, air racing had become a worldwide obsession, which, like NASCAR many years later, offered great publicity opportunities for the sponsors and the participants. Australian millionaire Sir MacPherson Robertson, recognized the public relations value of air racing and announced he was sponsoring a race […]
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