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

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Liberty University Offers "Jump-Start Your Aviation Career" Opportunity for High School Students

By Carmelo Turdo
Liberty University of Lynchburg, VA offers realistic opportunities for today's youth to train for careers in aviation.  In a recent feature story, The Aero Experience introduced Liberty University to our readers during their Cessna Top Hawk tour visit to Air Associates of Missouri in July.   

Liberty University is a partner school for the Cessna Top Hawk Flight Training Affiliate program, offering online aeronautical degree programs and flight training opportunities at Cessna Pilot Training Centers, including Air Associates of Missouri.  Liberty University also encourages high school students to participate in the Flight Training Affiliate Program and earn credits toward their aeronautics degree through the EDGE Dual Enrollment Program.  This video from Liberty University explains the high school dual enrollment program concisely:

CFI Jonny Hewitt with the Liberty
University Cessna Top Hawk aircraft
High school students can conceivably earn their private pilot certificate and an associate degree (or half-way to a bachelor degree) before entering college.  Progress toward the aeronautical degree and higher-level pilot ratings can continue through the remaining undergraduate education courses, resulting in early entry into a career with regional airlines that actively recruit Liberty University graduates.  The student does not have to attend the physical campus to participate in these programs.  Liberty University also encourages military veterans to enroll using their GI Bill benefits and the university's Yellow Ribbon financial aid program.

Visit Liberty University's School of Aeronautics and related online resources for more information about these opportunities.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015: Boeing Plaza - First C-47 Over Normandy Aero Experience completes our coverage of the aircraft on static display in Boeing Plaza at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 by featuring the first Douglas C-47 Skytrain to fly over Normandy during the Allied invasion of France that turned the course of World War II in Europe. The history of the aircraft was not readily apparent the weekend before Monday's opening day until the original name and the airplane's history were painted on the aircraft and the dedication ceremony was held on Wednesday. 

The Douglas C-47 was actually slated for conversion to a modernized turboprop-powered transport by Basler Turbo Conversions across the airport from Boeing Plaza.  Instead, the aircraft was acquired by the Commemorative Air Force and will undergo extensive restoration with the goal of participation in the 75th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in 2019.  As the first of over 800 aircraft participating in the airborne assault, That's All Brother acted as a pathfinder during the night assault.  It carried 15 paratroopers, about half the normal amount, and a radar set designed to assist in locating the drop zones.  The venerable transport served in the European Theater of Operations through August 1945, then returned to the U.S. and served with 16 different civilian owners until July of 2015.  The Commemorative Air Force will ensure That's All Brother has a good start on another 75 years serving as a reminder of the courage of the paratroopers that freed Europe from tyranny.

The dedication ceremony was held on Wednesday in Boeing Plaza under the nose of the aging warrior.  Commemorative Air Force President and CEO, Stephan Brown, described the process wherein the aircraft was acquired from Basler Turbo Conversions across the airport from Boeing Plaza.  The aircraft was purchased through an anonymous (to us) donor, and a recent fundraising effort has netted about $350,000 for the restoration process.      

Dale Dye, retired U.S. Marine Corps Captain, actor and advisor on military movie productions, was involved in the production of the video used for the fund-raising campaign.  "What it represents is the spirit of America," Dye said. "We need to get this (aircraft) out there so we can understand what the real spirit of America is."  He emphasized that the current generation learns through experience rather than book-learning, and that the historic aircraft will serve as a practical way of teaching history.  The Aero Experience agrees whole-heartedly!
Jim "Pee Wee" Martin was a member of the 101st Airborne Division/506th PIR/3rd Battalion/G Company and landed on Utah Beach during the Invasion of Normandy.  He fought for 33 days in France, served in the Invasion of Holland and also defended Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.  "Without this type of plane, we would not have had a successful invasion," Martin told the audience at the dedication ceremony.  "My heart goes a little faster when I get into one.  I still have the same feeling." 
Following the ceremony, the guest speakers were available to greet the audience, and it was heartening to see many of the younger generation take an interest in the aircraft and the great accomplishments of Jim "Pee Wee" Martin, Dale Dye and the Commemorative Air Force.    

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015: Boeing Plaza - P-51C Mustang "Tuskegee Airmen"

Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo of the best-known warbirds in the nation is the focus of this feature on static displays in Boeing Plaza at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015: North American P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen.  The rare P-51C is flown and maintained by the Red Wing, MN-based Red Tail Squadron of the CAF, or Commemorative Air Force.  The aircraft can be seen at airshows across the nation, along with the Rise Above Travelling Exhibit that tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.

The aircraft, a P-51C Mustang, was used as a trainer towards the end of World War II (most P-51C models were replaced in combat theaters with the P-51D model), put on static display, and later received by the Commemorative Air Force in the 1980s.  It was restored to flying status representing the history of the Tuskegeee Airmen in 2001 by the volunteers of the "Red Tail Project" led by Don Hinz.  The aircraft toured the nation for three years until it was involved in an accident that killed pilot Don Hinz.  The Mustang was again restored and is a regular performer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

While the P-51C Tuskegee Airmen was on display in Boeing Plaza, an actual Tuskegee Airman, Colonel Charles McGee, was interviewed in front of the representative Mustang fighter. A crowd gathered to hear what Colonel McGee had to say about his service in the then segregated U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and later in the U.S. Air Force.  Colonel McGee graduated from flight school in June of 1943 and flew 136 combat missions in fighters in about eleven months.  He flew another 100 combat mission in Korea, and served in various command positions.  He flew an additional 173 combat missions in RF-4C Phantoms in Vietnam, and returned home to command the 1840th Air Base Wing at Richards-Gebaur AFB before his retirement in 1973.  Colonel McGee has been instrumental in the development of the Tuskegee Airmen Association, and is a member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame
When Colonel McGee was asked which of his many awards he thought was the most important, his response was more practical.  "The key is what you have accomplished.  It is nice to have an award, but the fact is that I did something, with others, that helped change attitudes in the country.  It took our Air Force to realize that they needed to use people based on training and experience, not their happenstance of birth...The Air Force led the way."  The U.S. Air Force Drill Team, performing nearby, joined Colonel McGee for a group photo.
Thank you, Colonel McGee, and the Red Tail Squadron for preserving the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen for another generation!      

Thursday, August 27, 2015

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015: Boeing Plaza - RIMOWA F13

Fred Harl and Carmelo Turdo Aircraft collection on display in Boeing Plaza at EAA AirVenture 2015 included a very special aircraft that connects the past with the present in a very unique way.  A reproduction of the classic Junkers F13 was available for public viewing at the RIMOWA exhibit adjacent to Boeing Plaza.  The RIMOWA Junkers F13, with its aluminum finish and 1920s styling, stood out in contrast to the dark grey Boeing B-52H strategic bomber and other modern aircraft parked nearby.  The story behind the project is inspiring to those working hard to preserve aviation history and support the current aviation industry at the same time.
Junkers F13 was the first all-metal commercial aircraft, making its first flight on June 25, 1919.  Hugo Junkers envisioned a post-World War I commercial aircraft effort to produce metal aircraft that were economical, reliable, comfortable and durable.  Metal planes, he reasoned, could fly in all weather and be left outside of hangar if necessary.  Junkers Chief Designer Otto Reuter’s solution was a 6-passenger aircraft made of duralumin (aluminum alloy) with tubular spars, tubular metal framework without longerons, and corrugated metal wing skins all providing light weight and strength.  Two crew sat behind the engine in an open cockpit while four passengers at in two seats and a bench seat in an enclosed cabin.  Floats and skis could be also be fitted for cargo/postal and exploration flights.  Over 300 were produced and served around the world.  

The budding aviation industry inspired RIMOWA of Cologne, Germany, to produce aluminum (duralumin) suitcases to protect belongings from tropical conditions while also being light and strong.  The connection to Junkers lies in the use of duralumin for manufacturing.  Fast forward from the 1930s to the present, and there is a second confluence of the two different industries using aluminum for aircraft and luggage again to revive the legacy of the Junkers F13.  EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 was chosen as rollout site because of the exposure the project would receive from the massive captive audience attending the week-long event.    

The current F13 reproduction was initiated in 2009 by Friends of Historical Aircraft Association, Swiss airline JU-AIR,  RIMOWA and other manufacturing and engineering firms.  The engine on the current model is the Pratt &Whitney R-985, a 450hp radial from Aero Recip of Winnipeg, Canada.  Although not the original engine, USA export models of F13 were fitted with R-985 engines in the 1930s.  The cockpit replicates 1920s configuration, with additions necessary for current government approval regulations, and the cabin interior models the high-end standard of leather and interior paneling.   Flight performance is close to the original F13 – slightly faster but with slightly less range.  The first flight is expected in March 2016, with certification in May 2016.