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Wednesday
Jul172013

Kokomo, Indiana’s Fifth Annual Wings and Wheels Air and Car Show

By Mike Heilman & Ed Wells

Cliff Robinson races a motorcycle down the runway in his modified PT-17 Stearman. Robinson, an airshow veteran, has appeared in more than 300 airshows during his career. (Mike Heilman)It was the little show that could. The 5th annual Wings and Wheels Air and Car show was held June 8 at the Kokomo Indiana Municipal Airport (OKK). The one-day event was billed as the largest airshow in the state of Indiana in 2013.  Kokomo can make that claim since the Indianapolis and Gary airshows cancelled due the Congressional sequester. The event drew an estimated 4,000 people.

The annual event is used as a fundraiser with proceeds from food sales and VIP seating going to local charities.  The Event Coordinator, Pam Wild, explains “Our show is completely free, no admission at all.  The pilots are not monetarily compensated in any way.  All they get is a T-shirt and breakfast and lunch. They get gas for the show and the trip to get here. It is an all-volunteer show.  We have the support of the City of Kokomo and they are our biggest sponsor.”

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Wednesday
Jul172013

World War II Weekend – A Step Back in Time

By A. Kevin Grantham and Stan Piet

The photograph depicting the flag raising at Iwo Jima was the most iconic image to emerge from World War II. Here the Marines from the Living History Detachment, Paris Island expertly recreate that heroic event. (A. Kevin Grantham) Everyone in their life has, at one time or another, wished they could go back in time and witness some historical event. Technology has come a long way, but as far as your authors can tell, no one has come up with a reliable time machine. But if you are interested in World War II history, there is a place located near Reading, Penn. that annually transforms itself into a magical world of 1940s culture. The event, held by the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM), is better known by the thousands of people who attend it each year as World War II Weekend.

The following this event has cultivated over its 23-year span is one of the things that make World War II Weekend so special. The show opened on Friday June 7, 2013. Tropical storm Andrea was skirting the area and one may have thought that the wind, coupled with the buckets of rain, would have deterred many from attending. That was not the case. The gates did not open unto 8:30 a.m. but the line to get in started forming Airshow performer Michael P. Kennedy posing in front of his beloved BT-13. Lt.Col. Kennedy puts on a one-of-a-kind aerobatic routine in his vintage basic trainer. (A. Kevin Grantham) some two hours earlier. “We are very blessed to have such a following,” said Museum President Russ Strine. “This show is our single largest funding source, so we are very thankful for all the people who support this event.” Fortunately the bad weather cleared over the weekend, and many people showed up in 1940s era clothing, all wanting to be part of the gathering. Attendance records were not available at time of this article but most agreed that the show drew a record crowd.

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Wednesday
Jul172013

2013 Dayton Air Show

By Mike Heilman and Joe Gust

The 2013 Dayton Ohio Air Show was the site of the fatal crash, which ended the lives of wing walker Jane Wicker and her pilot, Charlie Schwenker. Wicker and her pilot were making their first appearance at Dayton in their modified Stearman. The aircraft lost altitude when Schwenker inverted the Stearman for a low level pass with Wicker sitting on the bottom of the wing.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it may take up to a year to find the cause of the accident.

The accident took place at the beginning of the airshow on Saturday, June 22. The airshow organizers cancelled the remainder of Saturday’s events. The spectators were informed that their tickets would be honored for admission on Sunday. This was the second accident in 39 years of the show. In 2007 Jim Leroy was killed when his Pitts crashed during the show.

Michael Goulian flying his state-of-the-art Extra 330SC over the Dayton Ohio Air Show. Goulian made is second straight appearance at the Dayton show. Goulian is the Air Show Industry 2012 ICAS Sword of Excellence. (Mike Heilman)The 2013 show went in the record books as the first all-civilian airshow in its 39 years of operation. The show organizers in 2012 moved the date to June to accommodate the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, but because of the federal sequester the Thunderbirds were removed from the show lineup. There were several large airshows that cancelled this year due to the military jet teams cancelling their participation in the 2013 season. The Dayton show officials decided to keep the date and to put on an all-civilian show.

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Monday
Jul152013

Military Aviation Museum

By A. Kevin Grantham and Stan Piet

The de Havilland Dragon Rapide. One of the museum’s crown jewels. This particular airplane was originally built in 1944 and is restored to resemble the aircraft that was ordered by the Prince of Whales in 1935. (A. Kevin Grantham)Virginia Beach, Va. is well known as one of the best places on the east coast to visit and enjoy the surf and sand of the Atlantic Ocean. It is also the home of Gerald “Jerry” Yagen’s Military Air Museum, which is quickly becoming a major attraction for the resort town.

The museum was established in 2005 and is located on the privately owned Virginia Beach Airport in Pungo, Va. It is only about a 15-minute drive from the shore to the museum. The first hint that something special is ahead is when the red and white water tower appears on the horizon. The museum’s 1930s era hangars come into site a few yards farther down Princess Anne road, and as you turn into the entrance you are instantly greeted by some wonderful dinosaur sculptures. This is not exactly something one would expect to see in a somewhat rural area of Virginia, or for that matter at an air museum. But seeing these colorful static creatures brought back fond memories of the roadside attractions that littered the United States during the post-World War II pre-interstate era. No doubt Yagen had that in mind when designing his Jurassic Park gallery.

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Monday
Jul152013

2013 Doolittle Raiders Last Reunion

By Herb Foreman

Frank Kappeler in 2006 in front of B-25 Sunday Punch at age 93. (Herb Foreman)Recently, many aircraft publications have contained articles regarding the 71st, and final, Doolittle Reunion held in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., April 16-20, 2013. Ft. Walton is where the original group came to practice short-field take offs flying from Eglin Air Force Base. The actual Rain, composed of 80 men in 10 B-25s, took place on April 18, 1942, eight days before my 16th birthday. I remember it well! My older brother had volunteered for the U.S. Navy the day after the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese.

I think nearly all of my generation thought it would be a short war. The quality of Japanese imports to the U.S. was very poor. In 5- and 10-cent stores, one could find little dolls and umbrellas made of bamboo and balsa wood that would fall apart after purchase. We laughed at them and considered their war products, guns, ammunition and aircraft to be equally as poor. Most of our young men rushed to volunteer for what they thought would be a short victory. It didn’t turn out that way. Those in the Japanese forces were tough, well-trained individuals willing to die for their country. They soon captured or controlled vast areas of the South Pacific.

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