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News and Stories

Cold War Wednesday! Sukhoi Su-27

Cold War Wednesday! Sukhoi Su-27

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 […]
Monday Mustang Story

Monday Mustang Story

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 […]

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The Dragon’s Den

The Dragon’s Den

As everyone knows, few DH 89 Dragon Rapides remain airworthy today. Constructed of wood and fabric, time has deteriorated their glued joints, and timber airframe components have rotted on these iconic 1930s British passenger biplanes. So the arrival of a Dragon Rapide at the EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh was a delightful surprise. Touching down at Oshkosh […]
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 […]

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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 […]
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 […]

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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 […]
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 […]

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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 […]
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 […]
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