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Mini Pilot Reports

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 […]
Ford Trimotor  – Ford’s Fabulous Tri-Motor classic airplane

Ford Trimotor – Ford’s Fabulous Tri-Motor classic airplane

When you climb on board some airplanes, there’s a feeling that can only be described as passing through a portal into history. As I worked my way between the rows of seats up to the cockpit of the Ford 4AT Trimotor, that was one of those moments: there was no doubt that what I was […]

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Model 12 Pitts Special Biplane –  The Definition of “Bitchin'”

Model 12 Pitts Special Biplane – The Definition of “Bitchin'”

What’s better than a biplane? That’s obvious: a biplane with a round motor. And what ís better than a biplane with a round motor? A round-motored biplane that’s designed by Curtis Pitts! When you’re saddling up the Model 12, it feels like a much bigger than a normal two-place Pitts, when in reality it’s not. […]
Piper J-3 Cub: Piper’s Lightweight aircraft is a  gift to mankind

Piper J-3 Cub: Piper’s Lightweight aircraft is a gift to mankind

Like most pilots, I’m not certain I can remember a time before I flew a J-3. That’s probably because I too started out in a Cub. I was fifteen years old and even then found one of the biggest hurdles to flying a Cub to be simply getting in it. The dance includes the following […]

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GeeBee R-1 and R-2: Air Racing with the World’s Fastest Pony Kegs:

GeeBee R-1 and R-2: Air Racing with the World’s Fastest Pony Kegs:

Today it’s impossible to think of the golden age of air racing without an R-1 or R-2 Gee Bee roaring across the mind’s eye. To the aviation public, the Gee Bees air racing — and vice versa. And that’ s only right. When Granville engineer, Pete Miller, drafted the first lines for the “R” series of […]
WW II’s Submarine-Sinking Fairey Swordfish

WW II’s Submarine-Sinking Fairey Swordfish

It’s impossible to look at the Fairey Swordfish, affectionately known as the “Stringbag,” and not say, “You have to be kidding! This was one of the Royal Navy’s most effective weapons of WW II?” A gigantic, bi-winged personification of the word “anachronistic,” as the saying goes, the Swordfish may have been ugly, but it was […]

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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, youíll 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 […]
Sukhoi Su-27: Is the Flanker the World’s Best?

Sukhoi Su-27: Is the Flanker the World’s Best?

The question on the table is: “Is the Su-27 the best fighter in the world?” Starting a conversation by saying any airplane is the best at anything is right up there with politics, religion and blondes vs redheads vs brunettes for sparking spirited debate. Still, if you read the popular press, the Su-27 is the […]

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Walt Boyne speaks from experience about flying

My first assignment out of flying school was to Castle Air Force Base, with the 330th Bomb Squadron of the 93rd Bomb Group. There in January, 1953 I was introduced to the Boeing B-50D Superfortress.    The introduction was a little rough, for the day I arrived, a B-50D from  another squadron had gone in, […]

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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