Monday, July 30, 2012

U.S. Navy T-34C Turbo Mentor Becoming a Rare Sight as Replacement Looms

By Carmelo Turdo
The U.S. Navy T-34C Turbo Mentor, once the mainstay of primary pilot training wings, is rapidly disappearing from first-line service as the T-6B Texan II takes over this role.  Two T-34Cs from TAW-4, based at NAS Corpus Christi, TX,  stopped in at St. Louis Downtown Airport in May, and another in mid-July.  TAW-4's transition to the T-6B should take place between 2012 and 2014.  Three T-34C's, one from TAW-4 and two from TAW-5 were painted in Centennial of Naval Aviation colors representing the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.  As these aircraft are retired, some will go to museums, but most will be destroyed rather than become available on the civilian market due to age and fatigue life issues.  Here a some views of the T-34C at St. Louis Downtown Airport July 15:


St. Louis Downtown Airport Is Hub of Medical Flights Serving St. Louis Hospitals

By Carmelo Turdo
St. Louis Downtown Airport, with its location just a few miles from some of the nation's best hospitals in downtown St. Louis, has become a hub of medical flights in recent weeks.  BK 117B-1 airlift helicopters known as KidsFlight 1 and KidsFlight 2, along with a Pilatus PC-12/45 KidsFlight 3, are based at the airport and serve St. Louis Children's Hospital.  Arch/Air Methods BK-117B-2 and Air Evac Life Team Bell 206L-1 Long Ranger helicopters land and refuel after local flights.  Last weekend, two flights landed at the airport, and waiting ambulances were used to transport patients to St. Louis area hospitals.  On Saturday, a Cessna 414 from Buffalo, New York arrived, and later took off to return home.  On Sunday, a Cessna Citation flown by Air Ambulance by Air Trek also delivered a patient and later took off.  The increase in medical flights to St. Louis Downtown Airport is a tribute to the excellence of St. Louis medical facilities, and the ideal location of the airport.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

U.S. Navy T-6B Texan II "Yellow Peril" Departs St. Louis Downtown Airport

By Carmelo Turdo
Visitors to the Greater St. Louis Air Space Museum at St. Louis Downtown Airport today were able to view a very special aircraft - theT-6B (BuNo 166064) "Texan II" from VT-3 "Red Knights" of NAS Whiting Field, FL for a second day. The aircraft is painted in the "Yellow Peril" Centennial of U.S. Naval Aviation paint scheme in salute to the primary training aircraft of the 1930-1950. The aircraft was painted new at the Hawker Beechcraft factory in Wichita, Kansas.  The aircraft departed St. Louis Downtown Airport this afternoon.  Here are some views of the crew preparing for takeoff:


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sightings: Centennial of U.S. Naval Aviation "Yellow Peril" T-6B Texan at St. Louis Downtown Airport

By Carmelo Turdo
Visitors to the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum at St. Louis Downtown Airport today were able to view a very special aircraft - theT-6B (BuNo 166064) "Texan II" from VT-3 "Red Knights" of NAS Whiting Field, FL.  The aircraft is painted in the "Yellow Peril" Centennial of U.S. Naval Aviation paint scheme in salute to the primary training aircraft of the 1930-1950.  The aircraft was painted new at the Hawker Beechcraft factory in Wichita, Kansas.  Here is the aircraft at all angles as it was parked in front of the museum:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Missouri Aviation Historical Society Celebrates F-15 Eagle 40th Anniversary

By Carmelo Turdo
The Missouri Aviation Historical Society joined with McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle Program retirees yesterday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first F-15 Eagle flight conducted on July 27, 1972.  About 60 attendees were treated to a set of 16mm movies highlighting McDonnell Douglas programs throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including the F-15.  Jack Abercrombie, aerodynamicist on the F-15 development team, gave a presentation on the aerodynamic refinements made during the flight test program.  Among the honored guests were Irve Burrows, McDonnell Douglas Chief Test Pilot who flew the Eagle's first flight, and test pilots Joe Dobronski and Larry Walker who flew subsequent flights throughout the program.  Also in attendance were engineers who contributed greatly to the final configuration of the F-15.  Due to the diligence of the McDonnell Douglas and U.S. Air Force F-15 Program Team, the flight test program achieved its objectives without losing a single aircraft or crew.  Special thanks to Dan O'Hara, President of the Missouri Aviation Historical Society and Alan Hoffman, Partner with the Husch-Blackwell law firm that hosts these monthly meetings.  Here are some scenes from the celebration:

F-15 Eagle 40th Anniversary Cake and Models

F-15 Display by the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum

F-15 Display by Joe Gurney

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Program Teammates

Chief Test Pilot Irve Burrows Cuts the Cake

Test Pilots (L-R) Joe Dobronski, Larry Walker and Irve Burrows

Engineer Bob Dighton with Pilots Larry Walker and Irve Burrows

Aerodynamicist Jack Abercrombie Discusses Design Changes

Title Page of Jack Abercrombie's Presentation
Jack Abercrombie's presentation and his other articles on the F-15 and St. Louis aviation history can be found on the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum's web site:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Boeing Holds Reunion of F-15 Eagle Program Employees and Retirees in St. Louis

By Carmelo Turdo
Several hundred members of the F-15 Eagle Program Team, including both current employees and retirees from McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, gathered at the Building 100 Prologue Room to celebrate the upcoming 40th anniversary of the first flight of the F-15 on July 27, 1972. Engineers, test pilots and production workers mingled together and talked about old times and their contribution to producing a fighter aircraft that remains in first-line service, and is still in production, 40 years after its first flight.  Engineers discussed how they designed a high-performance fighter using slide rules and that new Texas Instruments hand calculator.  Test pilots, including Irve Burrows, who flew the first flight, along with Pete Pilcher and Joe Dobronski, told stories of early flights in a program that lost no pre-production aircraft to accidents.  Production workers and supervisors related how the first aircraft took thousands of man-hours to build.    Each attendee signed a large banner that will be hung in the F-15 production area, and many will travel to the National Museum of the Air Force for another celebration this week.  Friends of The Aero Experience, Jack Abercrombie, Bob Dighton, and Joe Dobronski are also members of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum and the Missouri Aviation Historical Society.  Here are some scenes from today's event:

Large model of the F-15E Strike Eagle in the Prologue Room

Aerodynamics Engineer Jack Abercrombie signs the banner

F-15 Program employees and retirees signed the banner

F-15 Program employees and retirees gather with Joe Dobronski

Test pilots Joe Dobronski, Pete Pilcher and Irve Burrows

Current F-15 Program Manager Roger Besancenez addresses the group