Chino 2011 Media flight
As I get older, it takes more to get me out of the house. It takes a lot more to get me and 150+ pounds of camera gear to move cross country 2200 miles to California. The Chino Airshow can motivate me to do that.
Frank Mormillo invited me to the pre-show press conference last year. I couldn’t make it, but I did cover the airshow. It was the 5th show I’ve done in a row and they keep getting better. This year, I came out to California about 10 days early (and I’m still waiting for the show as I write this) just to come to the press conference. Well the guys at Planes of Fame know how to have a media event (translation, if Frank will have me I’ll be first in line next year). I’ve sat through so many boring media events that I’d put my eyes out with sharpened sticks before I do another. This one was done standing up in a hangar, not on a folding metal chair in a conference room. It was a quick; welcome, we are here; you guys know us, let’s get into the planes and go flying and shoot air to air.
A speech like that wakes you up faster than a giant double Mocha Latte from Starbucks and off we went. I got into a Cessna 190 (thanks for the ride Jeff) to shoot the air to air that you see here. Planes of Fame supplied the camera ships as well as a Dauntless, a Corsair and an Avenger. I furnished the photographic skills here. Shoot was awesome, pictures were amazing and a good time was had by all. Everything was done professionally as expected and the press conference went off smoother than Seal Team Six double tapping Bin Laden; after all they lost a helicopter, and we didn’t.
I even uploaded some LARGE shots that should make NICE screensavers or wall paper which will be at this link for a limited time for your PERSONAL use.
The show this year looks like it’s going to be bigger and better than any show they have presented in the past. If there is a single airshow not to miss this season, this is the one.
This event has become the largest regular warbird event in the country with the best photo opportunities that can possibly be had. There are virtually no “bad” places to see the show from. The warbirds that appear here on a regular basis are ones that would warrant a “specially” themed show somewhere else. The theme for this year’s show is the 100 years of Naval Aviation as so many others are doing this year. What distinguishes the event here at Planes of Fame is that they have so many Navy and Marine aircraft in house and on the field that they don’t have to run around trying to get aircraft to appear. You will see a Duck, F3F biplane, Wildcat, Hellcat, Tigercat, Bearcat, Avenger, Corsair, PV-1, PBJ (B-25), and Skyraider. There will also be all the other Army aircraft from WWII and Korea; as well as a Zero, Firefly, FW-190, Spitfire and more. The Zero and Wildcat combination is a featured act at another airshow this summer and they are making a “big deal” out of it; it something you can see that at Chino every year. All that and more; some of the more that is scheduled is a C-17 and a F-15 Strike Eagle. Civilians flying will be Rob Harrison in his Zilin 50 the “Tumbling Bear” and the Silver Wings Wing Walkers, Hartley Folstad and Margi Stivers.
For me a special treat is to see Howard Pardue fly aerobatics in the FM-2 (Wildcat). Howard is a Texas oilman, and former Marine Pilot (are there really any “former” Marines??). He’s done some of the best warbird aerobatics in the past in the Wildcat, Bearcat and Corsair (and at one time or another he’s owned all of them and several of some). Howard just retired from racing at Reno where he was fixture for many years. I know he’ll put on a show you will not forget.
The Northrop N9M Flying Wing is scheduled to fly. I’ve seen it fly before, it’s not fast, nor does it do Pardue type acro, but there isn’t another place on this planet where you are going to see this plane fly. Chino’s annual airshow is the only place and if you look at the crowd, they give the wing their undivided attention.
Clay Lacy is doing a demo in his LearJet. Last year he did aerobatics in it and that was a real crowd pleaser, after all who has ever seen a Learjet doing a roll or loop with smoke on? For those of you who are not familiar with Mr. Lacy, well, he’s in a class by himself. He pretty much invented modern corporate aviation. He was the first to sell LearJets, along with his old friend golfing legend Arnold Palmer. He’s flown about everything and has been flying the Lears since they first came out. He set around the world records and started the first jet charter service in the world in 1968. He has over 50,000 hours of flight time to his credit and all of this doesn’t even scratch the surface of what he has accomplished.
I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Hinton. Before the show (well, I’m sure all the time) he works like the “hired man”. He doesn’t sit still, for that matter I can’t think of a time I’ve ever seen him “sit”. Steve grew up at Chino with warbirds (the ones he flies now and flew back then), if I had to pick the most skilled pilot in the world today it would be him. He has to be the best stick and rudder man to every lift a flying machine into the air. During the show, he runs the show, and flies in it. He probably flies in about every flight in the show and in a variety of aircraft which are constantly changing. He doesn’t stop, read manuals, or do anything special, he simply straps on a new airplane and flies it well. He is not only the President of Planes of Fame, but he owns his own company “Fighter Rebuilders” that restores WWII aircraft.
Steve took a minute out of his busy day to talk to me about the Planes of Fame P-51 “Spam Can”. N5441V has a very unique history. It last served with the West Virginia Air National Guard (and I’m from West Virginia) and Ed Maloney (founder of Planes of Fame) bought it surplus in 1957 and its been in the “family” ever since. I’m sure that is holds a few records for the longest a Mustang has had a single owner, as well as the longest one has been continuously operated (54 years is pretty hard to beat) and for that matter its probably the highest time P-51 in the world at currently just over 4000 hours total time. If you go back in history to the TV series 12 O’Clock High, there was an episode in 1966 called “The Fighter Pilot” starring N5441V. In one scene, you can clearly see the N Number on the fuselage in foot high numbers. Of course the B-17 in front of the museum was a “star” of the show (and its restoration is coming along nicely). Spam Can still looks good and will be flying in the show.
Steve’s son Steve is going to be at the show too. He’s a chip off the old block; ok, has dad beat; Dad was National Unlimited Champion once (that I can recall) and Steve “O” as he’s known has been National Champion twice (the current reigning champion). Steve is going to be flying “Strega” which is the current National Champion P-51 giving us a demonstration of what you may see at the Reno Air Races this September.
I have left out a lot of things here, there is simply so much going on, It’s hard to cover it all. I can say this: Stop what you are doing, change your plans and be at the show. If you can’t afford it, sell a kidney (2 kidneys are overrated anyways) and be there. If you miss this one, you will be sorry.
The airshow is May 14 and 15 2011 at the Chino airport, gates open at 8AM, parking is free. General admission is very reasonable at $20 for adults, $5 for ages 5 to 11, and free to accompanied kids younger than that. Discounted advance tickets are available from www.planesoffame.org until May 13th.
You can contact the author at TNMark@Me.Com.