Thursday, December 29, 2011

Red Tails Movie a Hit With St. Louis Area EAA President

By Rick Rehg, EAA 64 President
(EAA Chapter 64 President, Rick Rehg, screened the yet to be released movie Red Tails and gave his review to The Aero Experience this week).  

Red Tails is a wonderful film and I give it a superior rating.  It is a very action packed film about the Tuskegee Airmen. I researched the history of the 332nd Fighter Group and found that the film is historically accurate. These airmen gave it their all and truly proved themselves in combat as the best possible reply to racism. They faced the best of the German Luftwaffe, including the German Me 262 jets. George Lucas, the executive producer, celebrates the heroics of the Tuskegee Airmen by putting his own money and team behind the making of this film because he believed in their story.  

It is an important film about American History. This movie puts you in the cockpit and will have your heart pounding as you face Germany's best fighter Aces. It even has some romance, with a sad ending as one of the pilots does not make it back from a mission. I think this movie will inspire and illustrate how talented and brave the Tuskegee Airmen were in the face of a fierce enemy. The movie never drags and will keep you wide awake with 1/2 of the film time in virtual combat flying. This is a story that should have been presented to the American public 65 years ago. Thanks to George Lucas for creating a film now that will engage and excite people of all ages.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

St. Louis County Lewis & Clark Branch Features Display of World War II Japanese Airplane Models

By Carmelo Turdo
The Lewis & Clark Branch of the St. Louis County Library featured a display of World War II Japanese model aircraft in remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941.  The models, in1:72 scale, were made by Mr. Frederick Busse,  have been in a handsome case in the library lobby throughout December, and are of impeccable quality.  Also included in the case are books and other memorabilia to set the scene of Japanese naval air forces used in the Pearl Harbor attack and through the rest of hostilities.  Special thanks to Mr. Busse and the St. Louis County Library for presenting this excellent exhibit!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 Will Bring Bittersweet Mix of U.S. Manned Space Mission Anniversaries

By Carmelo Turdo
2012 will be a year of U.S. Space Flight anniversaries - a bittersweet mix of triumph and tragedy that marks any of mankind's most difficult endeavors.  The nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's first orbital Mercury flight in Friendship 7, launched February 20, 1962.  Also in 2012, the 40th anniversary of Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 manned lunar missions will be observed.  It will also be the 30th anniversary of three Space Shuttle launches - STS-3, STS-4 and STS-5 - as well as the arrival of Challenger for preparation for its inaugural mission the following year.  The 20th anniversary of eight Space Shuttle missions and the 10th anniversary of five Space Shuttle missions will also be celebrated. 

America will also come together to remember more somber moments in the U.S. manned space program:

45th Anniversary of the Apollo 1 Fire - January 27,1967 (NASA Graphic)

26th Anniversary of the Challenger Mission STS-51L Tragedy Jan. 28, 1986 (NASA Graphic)
9th Anniversary of the Columbia STS-107 Tragedy February 1, 2003 (NASA Graphic)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Farmington, MO Regional Airport Shows Off Updated Layout

By Fred Harl
The Farmington, MO Regional Airport has undergone significant upgrades in recent years, and this seemed like a good time to take another look at this gem of the Midwest.  Owned by the City of Farmington, it sports a 4222 x 75 ft. concrete Runway 2/20 that may be extended to 5000 feet in the future. 

Improvements included a new terminal building, additional ramp space, new taxiway with additional turnoffs, and a self-service fueling area.  Also of note is the nearby Air Evac Life Team base, established in 1998, serving southeast Missouri communities.  Make Farmington, MO one of your next destinations as you convert money to fuel, and also drop by these airports while you are in the area: A. Paul Vance Fredericktown Regional Airport (11 nm SE), Washington County Airport (18 nm NW), Festus Memorial Airport (26 nm N), Perryville Municipal Airport (28 nm E), and Sparta Community Airport-Hunter Field (42 nm NE). 

Here are some of my recent aerial photos of Farmington Regional Airport:  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Displays Newest Attraction

By Carmelo Turdo
The Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum is sprucing up its hangar to accommodate its newest display – an F-4 Phantom II cockpit restored by Joe Steimann. The aircraft cockpit, originally from a McDonnell Douglas F-4F stricken from the German Air Force after an accident, is now in the colors of the MO ANG 131st TFW formerly based in St. Louis. Other aircraft on display include a BD-5, 1941 Meyers OTW previously owned by Nikki Caplan, Pietenpole Air Camper as well as several sailplanes and missiles.

Make it your New Year’s Resolution to visit the museum at historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2, St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, IL.  Visit the web site at

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Receives Restored F-4 Phantom Cockpit on Loan

By Mark Nankivil
The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has received a restored F-4 Phantom II cockpit on loan through the spring of 2012.  The owner, Joe Steimann, restored the cockpit and nose section of the aircraft to resemble F-4E s/n. 68-0338 flown by the 131st TFW,  Missouri Air National Guard, formerly based in St. Louis.  The cockpit is actually from a German F-4F that was damaged in an engine fire, and after being used as a trainer was destined to be scrapped.  Steimann purchased the remnants of the cockpit and restored it.  The cockpit can be seen at airshows and corporate events during the airshow season, but you can see it now at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum located in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  For more information about the museum, please visit

Joe Steimann and the F-4 Cockpit Before Restoration (Joe Steimann Photo)

The F-4 Cockpit Arrives at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum (Mark Nankivil Photo)

The F-4 Cockpit Is Readied for Display in the Museum's Hangar (Mark Nankivil Photo)

The F-4 Cockpit is Now In the Museum's Hangar (Mark Nankivil Photo)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Blue Angels No.7 F/A-18B Hornet Display Dedicated at St. Louis Science Center

By Carmelo Turdo
The St. Louis Science Center dedicated its U.S. Navy Blue Angel No.7 F/A-18B Hornet display Friday.  The aircraft, BuNo 161746, F/A-18B no.19, was built in 1983 and served as the actual Blue Angels No. 7 before retirement to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.  The aircraft was transported to the St. Louis Science Center in September of last year, and the aircraft is now displayed in front of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park. St. Louis Science Center President and CEO, Bert Vescolani and Dennis Muilenburg, President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security cut the ribbon at the ceremony in front of a gathering of those instrumental in obtaining and now displaying the aircraft.  Here are some views of the new display:

Dennis Muilenburg, President/CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security 

St. Louis Science Center President/CEO Bert Vescolani and Dennis Muilenburg, President/CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security cut the ribbon in front of the Hornet

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blue Angel F/A-18B Hornet Is Placed on Display at St. Louis Science Center

By Carmelo Turdo
The James S. McDonnell Planetarium at the St. Louis Science Center has placed on display a U.S. Navy F/A-18B Hornet formerly used by the Blue Angels aerial demonstration team.  Blue Angel No.7 is the two-seat Hornet flown by 2008 Team Narrator Lt. Frank Weisser and Events Coordinator Lt. Dan McShane.  The acquisition of the aircraft was coordinated by the National Naval Aviation Museum, Boeing, and Innoventer Inc. (engineering and transportation).   This aircraft was produced in St. Louis by McDonnell Douglas in 1983, and served in the fleet before joining the Blue Angels.  It was also displayed at the National Naval Aviation Museum prior to being loaned to the St. Louis Science Center.  The aircraft arrived in St. Louis last September, and the display is scheduled to be dedicated this Friday.  Here are some pictures of its installment for display today (Photo Credit: Mark Nankivil):

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day Remembered by Commemorative Air Force Tora! Tora! Tora! Team

By Carmelo Turdo
Today is the 79th anniversary of the Japanese Empire's attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The effort to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet, especially the aircraft carriers, was ultimately unsuccessful, and a series of hard-fought naval battles soon put the Japanese Imperial Navy on the defensive. The CAF, or Commemorative Air Force, Tora! Tora! Tora! Team performs around the country during air show season to memorialize the event and educate each next generation on the U.S. entry into World War II.  Here are some photos from the Tora! Tora! Tora! Team performance at the 2010 Scott AFB Airpower Over the Midwest:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top Gun: Author Dave Baranek Book Signing at Prairie Aviation Museum a Great Success

By Carmelo Turdo
Dave Baranek, Navy veteran aviator, signed copies of his book Top Gun Days at an appearance at the Prairie Aviation Museum in Bloomington, IL Saturday.  Baranek, call sign "Bio," received his wings of gold in 1980 as a Naval Flight Officer and later became an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School, Top Gun.  In August 1985, Baranek was assigned to participate in a project to film action footage for a Hollywood movie: Top Gun.     

According to Mike Sallee, Prairie Aviation Museum Director of Community Outreach, the event was a great success.  "There was standing room only (about 100 people) for both the morning and afternoon sessions, which filled the museum.  Dave autographed  with the dedication as requested by the visitor.  He gave a slide presentation for about 30 minutes, with details on the F-14 Tomcat aircraft and some of his experiences as a RIO and also Top Gun instructor."  The museum has an F-14D Tomcat on display in its airpark, along with several other Naval Aviation aircraft.   

Here are a few photos of the event (thanks Mike Sallee):