Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blog Stuff: You lucky, lucky SOB!

Dirtcrashr & Mrs. Dirtcrashr go for a ride in a B-25 Mitchell.

I am absolutely green with envy. Thankfully, he took pictures and posted them.

The two least productive days of my entire working life were caused by WWII aircraft. On the first, a guy was getting his multi-engine taildragger type rating in a C-47 painted in RAF colors, complete with D-Day stripes. He must've done a half-dozen or more takeoffs and landings there at Lawrenceville-Gwinnett airport, while I sat enthralled in the open hangar doors. Then, about a year later, thanks to an airshow in town, the restored B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" was parked on the field. All I could do was stare moon-eyed out the office window until it got too dark to see the plane...

14 comments:

comatus said...

Thanks to a Father's Day gift the very last year it was offered, I have one left-seat hour in 'Overcast' in my log book. When it's over, you don't feel like talking.

I was working in a federal building at the time, and another EAA kook and myself had to sit through a screwy security meeting the next day on how to make sure no one could get in there armed. "You know, I brought a heavy bomber over Main Office yesterday at 1000 feet with the bomb-bay doors open" kind of stopped the show.

DirtCrashr said...

The Planes have been taunting me for a few years now, and every time they showed up I'd go out for a visit. This time my wife said, "We're still on vacation, lets go" - and so we went and I'm glad it wasn't just me by myself. Also realizing that one flight was just the price of a couple premium motorcycle tires helped.

gmcraff said...

A few years ago, I snagged a free ride in a B-17, Yankee Lady, then the next day I went up in Gen Mitchell's former personal B-25.

I was the sole on-site weather officer at the Hanscom AFB air show, and since the Thunderbirds were hogging the hangars, there was no where to store the warbirds while a hail-dropping thunderstorm line was coming in. I sat down with my weather models, charts and whatnot, and found a airport near the coast where the on-shore breeze set-up would stall the thunderstorm line long enough for the sun to set and the thunderstorms to break up.

The next day I asked for a ride, and they said OK so long as the airshow boss said OK. I was in good as the airshow boss (since I had created the thunderstorm crowd management drill), so he let me up.

That was a nice smooth ride on the B-17. The B-25 was rougher and it slid around in the B-17's prop-wash during the airshow fly-by circuit.

On the second day, the general got the ride in the B-17 while I was in the B-25. The protocol guys were pissed, because usually they get the perks along with the generals.

I have pictures from the top gun turret on the B-17. I took some airshow crowd pictures so I could pretend I was doing some work while I was up there. They used those to estimate crowd size.

Anonymous said...

Heh - sometime when you have vacation time on your hands go up to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton(outside Toronto). They have one of the two remaining flying Lancasters there as well as a B-25 and some other lovely stuff. For a not too considerable sum you can buy a ride on the Lanc. Four Merlins spinning up - what's not to like?.
The spooky thing is how small most of the four engine WWII bombers were.

Brad said...

I got to see the B-17 and B-24 from them in 2005, they were impressive. There was also a Commemorative Air Force wing in Georgia that had a Mustang and a few other planes, there's nothing like the sound of those engines on takeoff.

Joseph said...

Once, years ago when I lived in Tulsa, I heard aircraft engine sounds while out driving. I worked for an airline at the time, and these engines sounded unlike anything I had ever heard...anyway, I looked up, and at about 500 feet doing heading for the airport is the Confederate Air Force's B29 and B24 flying in formation. Loved it.

Jonathan said...

I knew a b-25 pilot. He was shot down in WWII. Heck of a story. He was a very humble guy.

Billy Beck said...

I once took off in the Citabria directly behind that C-47. (Runway 7.) Believe me: it takes on a whole new dimension when he puts power on those engines and they start blowing your little 1650-pound steel-tube and fabric airframe around. Sensational.

The very first time that I ever taxied that airplane away from parking, I turned onto the taxiway only to find Aluminum Overcast directly in front of me, about 150 yards away. That was very daunting. I could just see the headlines: "NEWBIE PILOT DESTROYS PRICELESS AIRPLANE, TORN TO PIECES BY OUTRAGED MOB". I was ever so extra-specially careful, that day. It worked out.

DirtCrashr said...

Lancaster, Merlins - kewl!! We have a friend who lives in Toronto, but it's a cross-country trip...

Anonymous said...

I know a -25 pilot that ditched not one, not two, but three during WWII. I also know another pilot that was a ferry/transport pilot who flew just about everything in the AAF inventory, and lost all four engines on a C-54 one time, but was able to land safely.

Last time I saw a -17 was when it was in the pattern behind me. That's extra incentive to clear the runway ASAP...

Anonymous said...

Uncle was a bombardier in a '17; friend of the family a tail gunner in a '24. Back about 1997, one of each arrived at the West Essex [NJ] airport and my then 11 year old son got a look at them. Knocked on the side of the '24, looked at me [yes, he shoots], and quietly said, "They went to war in these." Try your knuckles on one of these old 'birds - sounds just like knocking on a galvanized pail. God grant them all safe landings. OldeForce

DirtCrashr said...

A galvanized pail - imagine that between you on one side and the exhaust manifold of a (excuse me, correction in blog) 1,750HP (@2,600RPM and @3,200FT) 14-cylinder supercharged double-stack rotary engine with pistons the size of dessert-plates - 6-1/4" - on the other... Ayy-caramba!

Byron said...

My late chiropractor was a pilot on the Ploesti oil field raid during WWII. Our late JP was a German POW after being shot down piloting a B-25.

I was taught to fly by a pilot who flew fighters in WWII. Sickest I've ever been in my life was flying with that man.

There were a couple of A-26 rotting away locally. Someone bought them and got them supposedly airworthy enough to fly where they would be restored. It was an odyssey. They'd fly a couple of hundred miles and set down in a cornfield for repairs.

reflectoscope said...

The USAF museum at Wright-Patterson AFB is a trip I'd recommend to anyone, and for you its 4 hours north - an interesting weekend trip maybe. Jim