WARBIRDS: A Look at the Other Vintage Propeller Powered Warbirds of AirVenture 2019
Warbirds and the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) have walked hand in hand since the early days, long before the name was changed to AirVenture. Warbirds play a vital role in the continued success of AirVenture and never fails to bring together an impressive batch of warbirds from all eras including World War II, Korea and Vietnam. This year AirVenture celebrated the 70th birthday of both the North American T-28 Trojan and the Beechcraft T-34 Mentor. The North American P-51 Mustang was also featured this year as reported on in a previous article.
AirVenture celebrated the 70th birthday of the single engine Beechcraft T-34 Mentor this year. The T-34 was designed as a primary military trainer aircraft and is derived from the civilian Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza. The T-34 first flew in 1948 and entered service in 1953 with the United States Air Force, and the United States Navy in 1955. The T-34 was originally powered by a single piston engine that being the A&B model, which was eventually succeeded by the turboprop powered C model or Turbo mentor. All branches of the United States military, including the United States Coast Guard, used the T-34 until it was replaced by the Raytheon T-6 Texan II. Today the T-34 is extremely popular with civilian owners and aerobatic performers alike such as Julie Clarke who just retired from the air show circuit this year.
Also celebrating a 70th birthday this year is the North American T-28 Trojan. The T-28 was designed and built as a piston engine primary trainer, that was also adapted to perform as a counter insurgency, reconnaissance, search and rescue, and FAC (Forward Air Controller) aircraft during the Vietnam War. The T-28 first flew in 1949 and was produced from 1950 until 1957 with approximately 2000 aircraft built. The T-28 was as used by the United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Army as well as several foreign countries well into the 1980’s. The T-28 is very popular with civilian warbird owners and aerobatic performers today due to its low operating costs and maneuverability.
Several other notable warbirds were on hand and included N30, a 1955 built Aero Commander UL-26B, serial number 554638. This aircraft has the distinction of being one of 6 originally and specially built to carry the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States and other government officers on short trips. This particular aircraft has the distinction of being the smallest aircraft to ever carry the Air Force One call sign when President Eisenhower used it to travel between Washington D.C. and his farm near Gettysburg PA. After being sold as surplus in 1960 the aircraft was relegated to flight training and freight hauling duties. The aircraft was bought by a private individual in 1997 and meticulously restored to its original condition. The Commemorative Air Force acquired it in 2019 and will display at airshows around the country for many years to come.
One cannot overlook one of the stars of AirVenture 2019 that being Tom Riley’s beautifully restored North American XP-82 twin Mustang. This extremely rare aircraft, with only 5 left in existence. This Twin Mustang with, serial number 4483887, and is the only one flyable left in the world. The XP-82 is powered by a pair of Packard built Rolls-Royce V-1650-23-25 counterrotating Merlin engines, which give the aircraft a top speed of 486 miles per hour and a range of 1,390 miles. Tom Riley started his restoration work in 2008 and after many years, the newly restored aircraft took flight on December 31st 2018, for the first time since December 14th 1949. This aircraft won the AirVenture post-World War II Warbirds Grand Champion Award for 2019 and 2 Golden Wrench Awards.
As usual several Douglas C-47’s descended upon AirVenture 2019 including the January 1944 built C-47, aircraft serial number 12253. This C-47 was built for the Royal Air Force and assigned Royal Air Force serial number F668 and assigned to 271 Squadron. On June 5th 1944, this C-47 would fly into the history books by participating in “Operation Overlord” better known as D-Day. This C-47 would go on to fly many missions through the end of World War II. Like many other surplus C-47’s after the war ,went into service as airliners converted to DC-3’s. This aircraft would fly for Trans Canada Airways from 1947 to 1957, after it was transferred to Canada’s Department of Transport where it adopted its current registration of C-FDTD. Fast forward to 2019 when Mikey McBryan, the General Manager, of Buffalo Airways based in Red Deer Alberta Canada found this historic aircraft for sale. With the backing of his father, “Buffalo” Joe McBryan, among others restored C-FDTD to flying status. On June 6th 2019 and after months of restoration C-FDTD made its first flight in 30 years and 75 years to the day the aircraft participated in the greatest invasion of all time. This historic C-47 now proudly wearing D-Day invasion Stripes and a Buffalo Airways colors rudder was on display at AirVenture all week.
Many other historic warbirds were also on display or flew through the week including, “Doc” one of only 2 flyable Boeing B-29 Superfortress’s left in the world. Numerous North American P-51 Mustangs, as well as many other trainers, fighters, and bombers were also present. AirVenture is and will continue to be a hotbed of activity for Warbird Enthusiasts each and every year. We will speed things back up in our next article highlighting the jet warbirds of AirVenture 2019, until next time “Blue Skies to All!”