Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil, Fred Harl and Leo Cachat - The Aero Experience Team

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This Day In Aviation History: YF-105A Thunderchief First Flight October 22, 1955

By Carmelo Turdo
Today marks the 59th anniversary of the first flight of the Republic YF-105A (s/n 54-098) on October 22, 1955 at Edwards AFB by company test pilot Russell M. Roth.  The aircraft could fly at supersonic speeds, and would later reach Mach 2 with the upgraded J75-P5 engine and aerodynamic refinements made in the F-105B and later models.  This prototype would be damaged beyond repair on December 16, 1955 after an emergency landing in which Roth was severely injured.  The F-105B entered USAF service in 1958.

The aircraft carried an M61 20mm cannon, and could accommodate an 8,000lb. bomb load in its internal bay (this would later be fitted with a fuel tank and the ordinance carried externally).  The original specification was for a nuclear strike aircraft for NATO operations, but the aircraft was transformed into a tactical conventional strike aircraft for its role in the upcoming combat action in Southeast Asia.  In the hands of U.S. Air Force crews, it carried the war to North Vietnam, "Going Downtown" to Hanoi on numerous occasions.  The aircraft was also a formidable fighter, claiming 27.5 air-to-air victories.  Nearly half of F-105s produced in all models were lost in combat.  They were retired from all service by 1984.

Many volumes have been written chronicling the development and combat operations of the F-105 series, but two stand out as riveting, first-hand accounts of F-105 missions over Vietnam - Thud Ridge and Going Downtown - both by Jack Broughton.  Both are highly recommended.

Below is a sample of intriguing black and white prints, provided courtesy of the Gerald Balzer Collection of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, featuring the F-105 in development, in combat and during a brief assignment to the USAF Thunderbirds April-May, 1964.  The Thunderbirds transitioned back to the F-100 following a fatal accident when F-105B Thunderbird No. 2 flown by Captain Gene Devlin broke apart during a low pass during a performance at Hamilton AFB, CA on May 9, 1964.  A memorial in Captain Devlin's honor was dedicated in November 2013.

Another look at the main combat production model F-105D Thunderchief comes from a memorial to armed service members currently at Fairview Park in Centralia, IL.  The placement of the F-105 was inspired by the service of Clinton County native Ltc. William Pachura, who flew 129 combat missions in Vietnam in the aircraft on display. 



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Air Associates of Missouri Haunted Hangar Has something for Everyone October 26

From the Air Associates Newsletter!

October 26, 2014
12PM - 4PM

What is the Haunted Hangar? Some say it's an event for aspiring pilots. Others claim it's designed as a warm-up for Halloween-crazed kids. We like to sidestep the controversy and describe it as a family-friendly aviation event wrapped in a candy shell of Halloween awesomeness.

Part Open House, part Fall Festival, It's slightly spooky, family friendly and a whole lot of fun!

Things that will happen at the Haunted Hangar:
Free admission
  • Aviation stations with games and prizes for kids and adults.  (Think candy, toys, gift certificates, etc.)  There will even be a fun Halloween craft for kids to create.
  • Free food - Chili, hot dogs, nachos and warm apple cider
  • Free pumpkins for kids 12 and under (While supplies last.)
  • Exclusive discounts (We're talking about saving hundreds of buckaroos on training!)
  • Spirited and slightly spooky decorations
  • Static displays of some AAMO aircraft and several aircraft available for ownership
  • Chances to chat with AAMO's instructors about learning to fly
  • Tours of our school, including our full-motion flight simulator, the Redbird MCX (Scott Thompson is the man to see about the Redbird.)
  • Halloween themed bounce house (Weather permitting.)
  • $99 Discovery Flights (First-come, first served. Again, this depends on the weather.
Things that will not happen at the Haunted Hangar:
  • A petting zoo
  • Paratroopers
  • Terrifying Halloween displays that will give your kids nightmares
To find out more, visit

While an RSVP is not required, it's always helpful to know how many visitors to expect. Please RSVP by sending us an email or via Facebook by clicking the pumpkin button below.  We'd love to see you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spirits Soar at Wabash Valley Soaring Association Vintage/Classic Sailplane Regatta

By Mark Nankivil
Wabash Valley Soaring Association Vintage/Classic Sailplane Regatta

June 11-15, 2014 at Lawrenceville-Vincennes, Airport

One of my favorite trips of the year is to attend the annual Vintage/Classic Sailplane Regatta hosted by the Wabash Valley Soaring Association(WVSA) at their home field at Lawrenceville-Vincennes Airport in Southern Illinois.  This year also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Vintage Sailplane Association (VSA) - read more about this fine organization on their website at
My son, Jack, and I arrived on Thursday afternoon and were treated to vintage sailplanes in the air and on the ramp.  I was excited to see Matt Gonitzke’s beautiful V-tailed Austria SH-1 (N12052) on the ramp, as the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum has one on display.  Matt did a splendid job restoring this all wood sailplane with the looks of a modern ‘glass ship and it looked even better in the air.    

The WVSA has a plethora of vintage and classic sailplanes, either individually or club owned, with a number of members actively restoring sailplanes in a purpose built workshop.  With two hangars full of sailplanes and a club house to make you feel welcome, this is a great club and place to host a sailplane regatta.

Weather over the three days we were there was excellent, and lift was plentiful though you had to work for it at times.  Jim Short in his blue/silver Schweizer SGS 1-21 (N-91861 - one of only two made and both still fly!) put in a 5+ hour flight on Friday, landing as the sun was setting. Jim obviously loves his 1-21, and he knows how to fly it well and work the lift that was available. 

Jim Croce flew his Glasflugel Libelle on Thursday and even used the drag chute for the landing, something rarely done nowadays. 
Howard Petri brought out his ultra rare, Dutch designed 1963 Vliegtuigbouw Sagitta (only 20 made) on Friday and after a thorough inspection, visiting Chad Wille took her up for a flight.  On Saturday, Chad flew her again, performed mild aerobatics and thermaled up and out a number of times.  The Sagitta looked good with the blue sunburst scheme showing as she flew overhead.

German designed sailplanes tend to dominate, by their numbers, vintage/classic events with the Schleicher Ka-6 (in its numerous models/variants), Ka-8B and two seat ASK-13 sailplanes being the most numerous.  All three types listed were present at the event with six different variants of the Ka-6 at the field and a pair of Ka-8Bs.

Saturday night the club hosted a dinner and auction benefiting the VSA with Dody Wyman’s beautiful quilt being raffled off as well.  Made from sailplane artwork found on numerous shirts, banners and other memorabilia with stitching taking on the outline of a sailplane, the quilt is a true labor of love – photos don’t do it justice. 

I look forward to heading back over to Lawrenceville, IL again next year - come join us and enjoy the beauty and grace of sailplanes both on the ground and in the air.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014: Curtiss P-40 Warhawk First Flight Anniversary

Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo 14 represents several significant aviation milestones, one of which is the 76th anniversary of the first flight of the Curtiss Model 75, or XP-40 as designated by the U.S. Army Air Corps.  The XP-40 was an outgrowth of the company's P-36A Hawk, with the Hawk's P&W Twin Wasp radial engine replaced with an Allison V1710 V-12.  The aircraft first flew on October 14, 1938, and offered only marginal improvements in performance over the P-36A.  Performance improved following modifications to the engine cooling system, cowling and landing gear in cooperation with the NACA Research Center at Langley Field, VA.  Orders for the production model P-40B pursuit aircraft (fighter) were placed in 1939, and nearly 13,800 of all models were produced through 1945.

The P-40 was used in all theaters, especially in the early years of World War II, and helped turn the Allies' defensive actions in China and North Africa into the first stages of victory on two fronts.  The early P-40B and P-40E models were used by the American Volunteer Group in China (the Flying Tigers) to blunt the Japanese offensive and in North Africa with the 99th Fighter Squadron, earning a reputation for ruggedness in combat.  The P-40E model included additional armament and more powerful engine, and the P-40N was the most numerous model in part due to exports to Allied forces.  A history of the P-40 development and service history can be found here.

Several P-40s were seen at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014, and The Aero Experience was there to capture some photos of this classic warbird: