30 September 2007 by Published in: General musings 4 comments

Susan and I did something incredibly cool today. We saw something that is quite likely a once-in-a-lifetime event. It was called the The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends, held at Rickenbacker International Airport over the last four days.

The Mustangs, of course, are the P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Over 100 of them were present. All are flyable, and all have been carefully and painstakingly restored to immaculate condition. The Legends are the men and women who flew them, including 80 of the surviving fighter aces of World War II. It was really an amazing event. Given that we lose 1,000 World War II veterans each day, there won’t be many more opportunities to do something like this.

When we first got there, the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team were getting ready to perform.
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Here, four of the six F-16C’s, flying in the diamond formation made famous by the Thunderbirds, pass by the bleachers at about 1200 mph.

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Here they are in their six-man delta formation.

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In addition to all of the Mustangs, there were a lot of other interesting aircraft, including several vintage bombers. Those bomers, along with two Mustangs, did some low-level strafing and bombing runs, complete with lots of pyrotechnics. Anyway, here’s a B-24 flying by.

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There is only one RAF Lancaster bomber left in the world that is airworthy. It performed at the air show this weekend. Here it is in the air, doing a low-level bombing run.

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Here’s one of the few remaining airworthy B-17’s, doing a low-level bombing run.

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The last event of the show was that 20 of the Mustangs launched and then formed up. They flew over the airfield in a “51” formation. We were lucky enough to get this picture of them.

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Here’s a close-up of the front fuselage of one of the P-51’s.

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The pyrotechnics guys were having fun, including blowing smoke rings.

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Here I am, alongside one of the Mustangs, with two of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen. The fellow on the right, a retired college professor, is one of the surviving fighter aces. He shot down a German jet with his Mustang. Just being able to take a photo with someone like that made the visit worthwhile.

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Here’s Susan in front of one of the Mustangs.

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I couldn’t resist shooting this photo. The DC-3, otherwise known as the Gooney Bird, is one of the best-built and most reliable aircraft ever constructed. This one caught my attention, and I had to shoot a photo of it.

There were many more really interesting and neat aircraft there, such as a B-25, a C-5 Galaxy, a couple of very cool Warthogs (A-10’s), a B-52, one of only 3 remaining P-38 Lightnings, a P-40, painted as a Flying Tiger, and a number of others. For me, though, the best part of it was seeing those beautiful old warbirds fly one last time, and seeing the reactions of the old vets as they watched them. I heard on the news that something like 80,000 people attended over the course of the four days, which was a wonderful tribute to the old birds and to the men and women who flew them.

I suspect it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but I’m surely glad that we went.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. anne
    Mon 01st Oct 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Eric, I believe there are two Lancs still flying, one based in Canada, and the other in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based not far from where I live in England. I often see the latter flying (sometimes with a Spitfire and Hurricane) over my house.

    Additionally, there is another Lanc not too far from me that does not have an airworthy certificate, and merely taxis around an airfield. I believe there is a hope that one day that might take to the skies again.

    Regards – Anne

  2. Mon 01st Oct 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Anne,

    You could be right. I was quoting from the airshow’s publicity stuff. Nevertheless, seeing that Lanc in the air was truly something special. The one that was at the show was the Canadian one you referenced. So, that means that there is one more that is airworthy.

    Thanks for the information.

    Eric

  3. Phil
    Tue 02nd Oct 2007 at 8:03 am

    Eric,

    One of my very best friends is a WW II fighter pilot. The only thing better than watching them fly MIGHT be sharing his scotch…….and listening.

    Phil

  4. Ian Duncanson
    Tue 02nd Oct 2007 at 4:51 pm

    If you visit Oban, Scotland, stop in at the Lancaster Hotel and say hi to the owner, John Ramage, whose father flew the Lancaster in WWII.

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