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Cover Caption: Greg Shelton flies his inverted FM-2 Wildcat, promoting his aerobatic routine which has become extremely popular on the U.S. air show circuit.
Photo: Scott Slocum
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Wildest Wildcat by Stephen Chapis
When Eastern Aircraft unveiled the FM-2 in early 1943, it was dubbed the "wilder Wildcat." For nearly a decade, Greg Shelton has been thrilling crowds with his aggressive, high-energy aerobatic routine in his FM-2, which could easily be called the "wildest Wildcat." Warbird Digest caught up with Greg at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania, during the 25th Anniversary WWII Weekend.
by Greg Morehead
When it comes to flying jet warbirds, somewhere between passion and addiction an owner finds his empty wallet. Although the acquisition cost can be low relative to the premium prices commanded by romantic World War II fighters, the fuel needed to get a jet into the air is enough to make one's head spin. What is saved in fixed costs is quickly chewed up in variable expenses. That helps explain why only a dozen of the 56 registered Lockheed T-33s and Canadair built CT-133s are still actively flown. A good flyable T-Bird can currently be purchased for under $150,000, which is much less than it would cost to restore a surplus aircraft to flight status. Yet, thankfully, in the warbird community there exists a breed of people who get excited when they see a derelict airplane, envisioning potential when the rest of the world sees a pile of junk. That's what happened in 2008 when Ken Pacholski, a Chicago-area restorer and collector, saw an intriguing advertisement.
An Interstate Mystery by Lyle Jansma
Shortly after sunrise on a beautiful Hawaiian Sunday morning, a diminutive Interstate Cadet S-1A taxied from its hangar at Andrew Flying Service and departed Honolulu's John Rodgers Airport. Instructing the training flight was a 22-year-old, stereotype-breaking Nashville debutante, who in less than 24 months had not only soloed and earned her private pilot license, but had also her commercial and instructor licenses. The morning's flight was to be a memorable one for Cornelia Fort and her student, Suomala, who was scheduled to solo later that day. As the two made circuits in the pattern, Cornelia enjoyed the peaceful morning scenery. To the north were the towering Koolau Mountains, their peaks jutting into the lazy fair-weather clouds overhead. Further to the east, under the rising sun, was downtown Honolulu, the beaches at Waikiki, and iconic Diamond Head. To her west lay the naval base at Pearl Harbor. Cornelia enjoyed flying the little blue and yellow Interstate Cadet that was barely six months old since it had been added to the Andrew Flying Service fleet earlier that summer. The fact that she was airborne while most on Oahu were still sleeping put a smile on her face. Those who knew Cornelia would not have expected anything less. She lived to be in the air.
A Poor Man's Spitfire by Nathan Harnagel
If you attended any major aviation event in the 1970s, you saw famous airshow and movie pilot Art Scholl doing amazing demonstrations of aerobatic flight with a modified version of the Royal Air Force (RAF) de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk. It has been called the "poor man's Spitfire" and is still operated by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and Royal Navy Historic Flight for initial tailwheel transition training. The Chipmunk's handling is legendary and it has a classic silhouette that reflects the old saying, if it looks right, it'll fly right. I had the opportunity to get transition training in the Chipmunk at the unique grass airfield named Van Sant in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. My flight instructor was Azhar Husain.
Remembering the few who saved many
by Richard Paver
On May 21, 2015, the Royal Air Force (RAF) officially unveiled a 29 Sqn Typhoon fighter at RAF Coningsby that has been painted in a 1940 era Battle of Britain paint scheme in order to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The Battle in the summer of 1940 ranks alongside the Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo as one of the most significant victories in British military history. It also comprised the first strategic military campaign defeat of the Third Reich during World War II. The Typhoon's new look represents a particular Hawker Hurricane-one that flew with 249 Sqn RAF in 1940 (coded GN-A) that was flown by Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest military award for valour in combat, for his actions in combat with the Luftwaffe on August 16, 1940.
Hueys of the AAHF
In the early days of piston helicopters, a name like "Hoverfly" just didn't strike fear in the enemy. The Army envisioned the helicopter as a fast, mobile, stealthy machine using terrain and vegetation to its advantage like Native American warriors. So, the Department of the Army decided to name each new helicopter after a Native American tribe, and sought tribal approval each time it named a new rotorcraft-Sioux, Shawnee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw, just to name a few. The only U.S. Army helicopter that was not named for a warrior tribe was the AH-1 Cobra, but that is another story for another time. The Bell HU-1 was originally developed by Bell Helicopter in 1952 to meet Army requirements for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter. The HU-1 first flew on October 20, 1956 and was ordered into production in March 1960, making it the first turbine-powered helicopter to enter production for the United States military, and eventually more than 16,000 would be produced worldwide. The HU-1 was named for the Iroquois Tribe.
Panchito Flying School
by Stephen Chapis
If you have ever wondered what it is like to take the controls of a B-25 and feel the rumble of its mighty R-2600s, then the Delaware Aviation Museum is your field of dreams. There you will find Panchito, Larry Kelley's highly-polished B-25J, with pistol-packing rooster Panchito Pistoles emblazoned on the nose. It is perhaps the most famous B-25 in the world.