Owls Head Transportation Museum Presents Its 2016 Rally

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Located on the north end of the Knox County/Rockland Maine airport, the Owls Head Transportation Museum’s Wings and Wheels Spectacular, held on the first full weekend in August this year, featured aircraft designs that spanned a full century of flight. These flying machines, coupled with a collection of automobiles and other wheeled vehicles that also spanned the century of progress, presented a great afternoon of living history in the picturesque MidCoast region of Maine. The museum’s collection contains aircraft, gliders, automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles, carriages, and assorted engines. Not only were a multitude of rare and interesting vehicles displayed, but the vast majority of them operated as their creators expected them to – flying in the air and motoring around on the ground! Originally a small idea about a few classic aircraft flying around the Maine coastline, the scale quickly grew to include air and ground vehicles. Today, automobiles outnumber aircraft, and exhibits may include non-museum artifacts. A core group of dedicated volunteers runs the museum and maintains the artifacts owned and operated by the museum.

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The museum has 28 aircraft in their collection, some airworthy and some not. A few were displayed inside the large rooms of the sprawling campus, including a WACO UBF-2, a Curtiss Model D, and a Pitcairn PA-7S Sport Mailwing. Many are “representations”, especially earlier examples, but there are originals too, including a Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny”, built in 1917. Another example of a rare original aircraft is the Milliken M-1 Special, built in 1932. Not only are the aircraft housed among the autos and other powered vehicles in the museum, but other out hangars contain aircraft undergoing restoration and refurbishment.

Here’s a look at most of the aircraft that were featured at the “Rally” (as it is sometimes called), along with a few of the performers. Special guests included a quartet of World War II warbirds, and a pair of world-class aerobatic performers. A number of the Museum’s aircraft flew or were displayed outdoors too.

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1917 SPAD XIIIC.I replica, complete with an eye-catching authentic, but short lived paint scheme from the period when Captain Eddie Rickenbacker commanded the 94th Aero Squadron. During World War I, this type of aircraft was flown by French, Italian and American high-scoring aces, including Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. This replica SPAD is operated by the Owls Head Transportation Museum.

1923 Fokker C.IVA, an authentic restoration of an aircraft that attempted to fly from Tacoma, Washington to Tokyo, Japan in 1930. Included in this restoration is a Rolls Royce Eagle VIII V-12 water-cooled power plant. This aircraft is also owned and operated by the Owls Head Transportation Museum; it was restored and then donated by one of its trustees, Mr. Ken Cianchette.

1930 Curtiss-Wright Travel Air D-4000 Speedwing, owned by the Owls Head Transportation Museum, is a movie veteran from the early 1930s. The D-4000 aircraft was originally designed by the Travel Air Manufacturing Company, which was formed when Lloyd Stearman, Walter Beech and Clyde Cessna (three great names in civil aviation!) joined forces in the mid-1920s. The Great Depression’s effects forced Travel Air to be sold to the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in 1929, thus this 1930 vintage aircraft is more correctly called a Curtiss-Wright Travel Air D-4000.

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1941 Stearman A75N-1; The design was originally produced by the Stearman Aircraft Company in 1934, as the A75 but very soon the company became a subsidiary of the Boeing Company. Original U.S. Army trainers were called the PT-13, PT-17, PT-18, and the Navy’s was the N2S. All shared the name “Kaydet”, although the naval version was sometimes called “Yellow Peril” after its bright yellow training color scheme. The Owls Head Transportation Museum owns and operates one; it was one of a pair of biplanes which were available to (paying) passengers for scenic flights during the Wings and Wheels event.

1942 P-40K Warhawk/Kittyhawk Bernie Vasques flew the Texas Flying Legends Museum’s (TFLM) “Aleutian Tiger”, a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk (also known as a Kittyhawk when this plane was sent to Russia as part of the Lend Lease Agreement during World War II). This and a similar aircraft were recovered from Russia and restored; this one in markings representative of an Alaskan-based U.S. fighter squadron.

1944 F-51D Mustang The Tri-State Warbird Museum’s Mustang is named “Cincinnati Miss”, and was present two years ago at an earlier Wings and Wheels event. This year it was piloted by Paul Redlich, who flew multiple passes paired with the TBM “She’s the Boss”. The “F-” designation came into effect in 1948, when the World War II (and earlier) “P-” (Pursuit) was changed to “F-” for Fighter.

1945 FG-1D Corsair Warren Pietsch flew the Texas Flying Legends’ Corsair, a version of the Vought F4U fighter bomber. This Goodyear-produced Corsair was once operated by the El Salvador Air Force, and during the weekend, it flew in formation with the TFLM’s P-40K “Aleutian Tiger”.

1945 TBM-3U Avenger Charlie Lynch owns and flies this modified World War II torpedo bomber; this aircraft later became a utility aircraft for the U.S. Navy after World War II. The story goes that when Charlie told his wife he wanted a warbird, she said it had to be big enough to carry the whole family from air show to air show… narrowing his choices to include this big Grumman single – his ultimate acquisition.

1953-56 T-34A Mentor Julie Clark’s Beech T-34A Mentor was in Alaska when she bought it at a government auction in 1977. Julie has now personally flown this individual aircraft more than 11,000 hours – that’s more than 15 months of continuous time aloft! Julie is a retired airline pilot, flight instructor, and world-renowned aerobatics pilot with an infectious smile and a huge amount of flying experience. According to her web site, she was a civilian flight instructor in T-34s at California’s NAS Lemore, and her familiarity with the type led her to buy this plane that she’s named “Free Spirit”. Her aircraft has an upgraded “Stratos Plus” engine of 300 horsepower, much more powerful than the original stock engines that developed around 225 horsepower. Julie flew her dynamic and graceful aerobatic routine in her advanced trainer, complete with red and blue smoke and flashes of sunlight reflecting off of her highly polished airframe.

1987 Ultimate 10-200 Dan Marcotte is a speed demon… he’s raced stock cars, been over 300 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats, successfully competed at the National Championship Air Races in Reno Nevada, and has proven himself worthy of a surface level aerobatics waiver in a hot Ultimate 10-200 biplane. Dan hails from the nearby state of Vermont, and is a big supporter of Maine’s Owls Head Transportation Museum.

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2011 YMF-F5C One of the Owls Head Transportation Museum’s younger aircraft, this modernized version of the original WACO (Weaver Aircraft Company) brand of biplane was built by WACO Classic Aircraft, not the original manufacturer. It can carry two passengers as well as the pilot, and in conjunction with the Museum’s Stearman, offered scenic rides all weekend.

Just to show that there were many more earthbound attractions in Rockland during the weekend, here is a slide show of more of my favorites:

The Rally is just one event on a long list of featured weekend tributes to various types of transportation that happens each year at the Owls Head facility. Events that feature automobiles – like the recent 39th Annual New England Auto Auction held at the Museum, is an example of the almost-weekly special events planned each year – which includes a Father’s Day celebration, the 1920’s-themed Barnstormer’s Ball, many motor vehicle gatherings and type roundups, and of course this Wings and Wheels weekend. For a full calendar of the Museum’s events, go to: http://owlshead.org/events

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Many thanks to the Museum’s Public Relations Director Jenna Lookner and the rest of the operations staff for allowing us great access for photos and interviews, so we could tell this story!

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Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 32 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site, and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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