BLOONS!!

With the windows and doors open in the beautiful weather, we heard what sounded like small jets overhead. I grabbed a camera and went out to find three hot-air balloons overhead! The people in the gondolas were waving at me as I pointed my long lens at them, and one friendly soul called out “Howdy, Neighbor!” as she floated overhead. These balloons were so low that I we could see the flames from the burners. And then they drifted out of sight.

Hot Air Balloons
Hot Air Balloons
Hot Air Balloons

The PBY Lives!

There’s a PBY sitting at Glendale Airport. It flew in some years ago, and the owner’s been working to get it up to snuff to move it to its new home at a new aviation museum here in Arizona. I was lucky to be able to be there when they fired it up to test the engines prior to a taxi test. Unfortunately, the taxi test didn’t happen since there was a fuel system issue with the left engine, but it sure is beautiful to hear round engines run. There’s something classic about radials.

It’s interesting that when an aircraft is sitting derelict (this one’s not derelict, just a work in progress, but this concept applies) it seems lifeless, dead. And when it runs it comes to life, like it really wants to be back in the air where it belongs. This is the most life I’ve seen in this PBY since it arrived at Glendale.

PBY Lives!!

PBY Lives!!

PBY Lives!!

PBY Lives!!

True or Pfalz? Either Way, It’s a Beautiful Airplane

So I got to see the rollout of a magnificent replica Pfalz D.XII World War I fighter plane. This airplane is a 16-year labor of love, built by a father and son out at Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. From the outside, it is virtually indistinguishable from the original, and as far as anyone knows this is the first time this airplane has ever been built in replica. A number of originals still exist, but this is the only replica.

Congratulations to the people who created this beautiful machine. I would love to see it fly, though at the present time that doesn’t look likely.

The entire gallery can be seen here.

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Pfalz D.XII

Trip to Missouri, Day 3

Goodness there’s a lot to write about. Our hotel had some more fellows guarding the place. The gent with the pick looks more like a baseball player than a miner, with that focused stare of a heavy-hitting batter. But his Native American friend looks a little wooden.

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Before leaving Trinidad, Colorado, we decided to walk around a little. Trinidad is a cool town. It was a mining town before the mines shut down, and I’m not quite sure what the economy is built on today. Apparently Bat Masterson was town marshal there for a while. It’s full of nifty old buildings, nice people, and nifty old buildings. I particularly like the fact that some of the streets are paved with bricks that seem to be locally made, as they are stamped “Trinidad.” The town has a proper courthouse and a beautiful building that turned out to be the funeral home (why is it that one of the prettiest buildings is always the funeral home?).

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

Trinidad, CO

If you ever go to Trinidad, go to the cafe that is part of Danielson’s Dry Goods at 135 Main Street. This place is amazing, and it has a mocha that is TO.DIE.FOR. Seriously. Even if you’re just driving through Trinidad, go there. They also have free wi-fi.

So we headed out of town, and there’s just so much to see on the road. There’s this little building that was once some sort of store, I think, but it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. It does have some cool dandelions, but the interior of the building is filled with junk. There’s just nothing around it, really, except grassland. Miles and miles of grassland.

There was also a memorial on the side of the road to the crews of a couple of B-24 Liberator bombers that collided during World War II at this spot.

And continuing on the WWII thread, just past that odd little building there was a vehicle sitting off in the ditch, attached to a trailer with spools of telephone wire. Obviously someone was running new phone lines and this red thing was what they were using. As we drive by, I just glanced at it and kept going, but something about it seemed “off” and it just kept niggling at me. A mile or so down the road, it hit me that the vehicle was a WWII era M3 halftrack troop carrier! I’ve heard of these things being used civilly but never seen one still in use before. Most of the ones I’ve seen are restored to their military configuration. So I had to go back and shoot it.

halftrack

halftrack

We passed a tiny little airport that had a total of one Super Cub parked outside, but the local sprayer outfit had the cutest mailbox.

The Super Cub sports a registration that, if it’s been continuous, is listed in a 1966 accident with the FAA. It’s fun to look up N-numbers of planes I see 🙂

Oh yeah, and keep the mailbox in mind. You’ll see it again later, in a slightly different guise.

A WHOLE lot of nothing later, we hit Kansas and started seeing oil pumps. I never knew Kansas is an oil-producing place. My main question is, why are we letting BRITISH PETROLEUM pump oil here? Don’t we need our own oil?

We got to Garden City, a place I had never heard of. Wendy saw a sign for the Garden City Regional Airport, and as we are both airplane people, we decided to go see what was there. I mean, what could be at Garden City? “Maybe they have a restaurant,” I joked, since we spend a lot of time at the restaurants at Phoenix Deer Valley and Glendale airports. She laughed, and said, “What could be at Garden City?” This sign greeted us as we pulled in… and we laughed some more.

We got to see the Piaggio outside and some little stuff rolling around, and eat a fantastic Italian meal. I mean, this place is GOOD.

Piaggio

So on to Dodge City, Kansas. It was a relief to get there, as there’s not a whole lot in Kansas except cows. This is all one feed lot:

In Dodge City, there’s a B-26 Invader on a post, that seems to be the favorite roost (and restroom) of about 265,344 pigeons.

There were also about a million jackrabbits and these cool longhorn cattle, which are apparently descended from the herds that were driven in the great cattle drives in the Wild West days. We met a really nice gent on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle who told us all about the Invader and also about the cows.

So we drove up to the airport itself, and there’s a total of one airplane there. But it’s the REAL version of the mailbox we saw earlier. How cool is this?

Air Tractor

And so on out of Dodge City. These steely cowboys came out to say goodbye:

Cowboys

But the day wasn’t over yet. We ran across a wind farm. These things are so beautiful to watch; I don’t know why anyone would NOT want them around. The windmills are grand to look at, with a magnificence that must be seen to be understood. I could watch them all day. And in the fading light of the sunset, they look especially serene.

windmills

windmills

Finally, after passing farmers burning the fields they just harvested,

fire

we pulled in to Hutchinson, Kansas for the night. Whew. Long drive, but it’s worth it. I haven’t been across this part of the United States before, and it shows me how great our nation truly is. On this July 4th weekend, it’s especially meaningful to see the purple mountains’ majesty and the amber waves of grain.

And lots of cows.

Luke Days Airshow, Luke AFB

Goodness I love airshows. The Luke AFB airshow was fantastic this year. Except for the dust. The wind started kicking up from the beginning, preventing the Air Force parachute team from jumping. But it didn’t prevent the flying! 2006 Air Race Champion Kirby Chambliss was there with his Red Bull Extra, Matt Younkin was there with his Beech 18 — there is something VERY weird about a Beech 18 doing aerobatics — and the Air Force flew the C-17, the A-10 Warthog and the new F-22. What a plane! I am more a fan of WWII planes, and so until that day the F-22 didn’t really impress me all that much, but goodness what a performance. The Stearman guys did their show, and that was really cool. The Horsemen, a P-51 aerobatic duo, did a magnificent display of precision flying; they looked like they were glued together the whole act! The Red Bull crew had Kirby’s Extra, a MiG-17, and an HU-16 Albatross there, as well as a phenomenal flight display by a BO-105 helicopter that did things a helicopter should not be able to do.

When the Air Force brought up Steve Hinton in his P-40N and the Chino P-51 N7TF to fly the Memorial Flight, I must admit that I was especially proud to be American, and proud to be a veteran of the US Air Force.

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

Luke Day

We left before the Thunderbirds flew (which I had REALLY wanted to see), because the wind had kicked up to 25-30 knots and the dust was insufferable. AWFUL. It took me two hours to clean my cameras when I got home. Ugh.

Luke Day

2009 Cactus Fly-in

Saturday we went out to the Cactus Fly-In at Casa Grande, AZ. It was such an incredible day that we could not have mail-ordered a better day from Amazon.com — low 70s, bright sunny, low wind, just a perfect day. Even the nasty beef hot dog was nice. 🙂

It seems that each year, the Cactus Fly-In gets better and better. This year saw a plethora of very interesting planes come in, with the centerpiece being the magnificent Super Corsair racer #57. This Corsair was the final production version of the famous fighter, with an R-4360 engine and a bubble canopy. Too bad it came in at the end of propeller fighter development; not many were made, and most of the few that survive are in museums.

Anyway, enjoy. I will have a full gallery up in the Proofsets tab on my website shortly. Also, you can check out my Youtube Channel here!

Here’s the Super Corsair:

Super Corsair
Super Corsair
Super Corsair

An A-1 Skyraider came to pay us a visit:
A-1H Skyraider

There were lots of Stearmans there:
Stearman
Stearman
Stearman

A Cessna UC-78 “Bamboo Bomber” (really the Bobcat) made an appearance. It was there last year as well.
Bobcat

This beautiful P-51D Mustang flew in, and later flew away with the Corsair to do a photo shoot.
Mustang

One very interesting plane there was a small-scale replica of a Fieseler Storch — and from all appearances it can do pretty much what the real thing could. When he climbed out, he hung it on its prop for what seemed like forever before leveling off and flying away.
Storch

My dad made an appearance in his Luscombe and took Bill for a ride:
Luscombe

More Stearmans. Stearman owners seem to have a fetish for showing off. 🙂

Stearman
Stearman
Stearman