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Mini Pilot Reports

MiG-15: Crude but Effective

MiG-15: Crude but Effective

The Yalu river runs wide and dark across the huge peninsula that is Korea. On either side, the topography is the same and at 40,000 feet, the hard blue sky doesn’t change color just because the politics below are different. One morning in 1950, however, when American and ROK (Republic of Korea) pilots came back […]
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 […]

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Stearman PT-17/N2S: The Biplane With So Many Lives

Stearman PT-17/N2S: The Biplane With So Many Lives

The PT-17 Stearman is literally the airplane that has always seemed to just be “there.” Although, it is most often thought of as the school marm that taught a generation of airmen the skills necessary to win a war, she has actually lived three distinct lives and is entering a fourth, from military trainer to […]
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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Mitsubishi A6M Zero: Terror of the Pacific

Mitsubishi A6M Zero: Terror of the Pacific

Zero! Normally that’s a number signifying nothing, but to those who know history it indicates an able foe. A dainty, but lethal, dancer that cut a swath across the Pacific so bloody that for the first six months of World War Two it appeared as if nothing could stop it. The stories that filtered back […]
The Marvelous Gooney Bird: Douglas DC-3/C-47

The Marvelous Gooney Bird: Douglas DC-3/C-47

It could be argued that modern air transportation began in 1931 with the tragic death of Knute Rockne, the much-loved Notre Dame football coach. A national figure of legendary status, his death in a Fokker Tri-motor airliner touched off a national furor to upgrade airline transportation. The airlines responded immediately with frantic demands to the […]

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Focke-Wulf FW-190D: The Luftwaffe’s Long Nosed “Butcher Bird”

Focke-Wulf FW-190D: The Luftwaffe’s Long Nosed “Butcher Bird”

When Grumman engineering pilots climbed out of a captured FW-190A in England after their first flight, they were astounded: it made their beloved Hellcat look like a plow horse. It was light, rolled like lightning and climbed like an artillery shell. It represented a whole new world of performance that was only just beginning to […]
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 […]

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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 […]
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 […]
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