Planes Of Fame Airshow 2015

01_Mark Hrutkay_TNMark1@GMail_Com_2015 Chino_Sun_Card24b_CX8F4642

I was checking into the hotel and the pretty lady behind the counter asked what I was doing in town? I told her I was here for the airshow. She had no clue there was an airshow this weekend. Not even a simple country airshow, but a real world class event, and what I would call the best warbird show on the planet.

In 1957, Ed Maloney opened “The Air Museum” in Claremont California. The concept of a museum dedicated to airplanes simply didn’t exist at the time. There really were none. Over the years he collected airframes, engines and memorabilia. He saved things that nobody thought to preserve, such as a ME-262 (eventually sold to Paul Allen) and several Japanese airplanes, as well as lots of American aircraft. If you actually sit down and research the histories of many of the surviving WWII warbirds, they were owned by Mr. Maloney at one time.

There are few collections quite like the Planes of Fame. They really fly and are in one main location. There are other collections where the planes haven’t flown in over a decade or more, or there is only one “pilot” who flies a few of his favorites. In some other collections they count “projects” as airplanes, which is acceptable, but at Planes of Fame, the vast majority of their collection actually flies. There are also plenty of pilots on staff who can get quite a few planes into the air at one time. To sum it all up, it’s a really cool place to go. I went there for the first time in the late 1980s and have come back countless times since then. I live 2400 miles away and the trip is worth it.

Back to the airshow, this is the major fundraiser for the Museum for the year. This is the chance you get to watch the airplanes of the museum fly. They also get many local warbird owners bringing their planes in. The Sanders brothers flew their Sea Fury collection down from northern California. The Commerative Air Force appeared with several of their rare airplanes (this year it was the Zero, Bearcat and Hellcat). Say maybe 50 airplanes in all. Combine that with Sean Tucker and other airshow acts, and you have a major show.

While it is impossible to mention or give credit for all the aircraft there, there are a pair that need mentioned. First is the USAF F-22 Raptor. Because of mission requirements (which means there are not enough to go around) and the reported $60,000 an hour to fly it, there are not going to be many demonstrations of this amazing airplane. If I recall correctly, last year there were four shows that had the Raptor. If you have never saw it fly, the performance is beyond amazing, it literally defies gravity with it’s vectored thrust engines. Also the Raptor participated in several Heritage Flights that were done with some unique aircraft combinations. Those flights alone were worth the price of admission.

The other significant participant was Stephen Gray’s P-36C Hawk. This is the second one flying in the world and just came out of Matt Nightingale’s shop at Chino. Who is Matt NIghtingale? He is a master craftsman. Two years ago he restored another early P-40 for Mr. Gray. Both airplanes stand out with their mirror polished finishes, which make it easier to see the perfect aluminum skin. This P-36C served stateside in WWII. Steve Hinton Sr. was entrusted to fly it during its only US airshow appearance. After the show it was to be taken apart , loaded in a container, and shipped to England for the upcoming Flying Legends Airshow.

The show is well produced. Unlike many of the shows I review each year, there are no dead spots here. The show flows continuously, there is always something flying. No dead spaces, no waiting for an airplane to start, taxi, take off, etc. There are always multiple planes doing flybys. If you can’t get a good picture here, well, you aren’t going to get a good picture anywhere. This is THE SHOW.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. If you weren’t here this year, set aside the first weekend in May 2016 for the next show. For the woman at the hotel, put the show on your calendar. Be there.

You can contact the author Mark Hrutkay at TNMark1@GMail.Com

Mark Hrutkay

Mark has been a member of the International Association of Aviation Photographers (ISAP) for several years and attends all their events and seminars. He has won several awards for his work and has been published in several aviation magazines, domestic and foreign. You can contact Mark Hrutkay at TNMark@Me.Com.

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