Collings Foundation Welcomes New TF-51 Mustang

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The Collings Foundation welcomed this TF-51D  named “Toulouse Nuts” back to the skies over Florida with the the help of American Aero Services in New Symrna Beach.  “Toulouse Nuts” will be joining the Wings of Freedom Tour and will be available for rides across the U.S.  For more information about the restoration process check out: “Whats new at the Collings Foundation”

Photo Credit: Mike Ligosh

Great News From the Collings Foundation

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Former Evergreen Aviation Museum’s B-17G 44-83785 “Shady Lady” in flight.   It has joined the Collings Foundation and will return to the sky again in 2017. Photo Credit: Evergreen Aviation Museum

The Collings Foundation has just released exciting news.  They have acquired a number of aircraft from the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.  The aircraft include a second B-17G for their collection “Shady Lady”, a P-38L Lightning, a Bf-109 G-10, and  a second P-40 Warhawk.

The Collings Foundation plans to have the Evergreen B-17 flyable by 2017. There will not be two B-17’s on the Wings of Freedom Tour, but rather will give the foundation ample time to do necessary work on their B-17G “Nine-O-Nine”, that they are not able to preform due to time constraints on tour. This is the same idea that the Collings Foundation had in mind when they purchased a TF-51D Mustang restoration project not too long ago.  The TF-51D when completed will take the place of the foundation’s TP-51C “Betty Jane” while necessary work is done on it.

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The Collings Foundation’s newly acquired P-38 Lightning. Photo Credit: Evergreen Aviation Museum

The Collings Foundation also acquired a beautifully restored Lockheed P-38L Lightning with very flight time logged since its restoration.  Although the Collings Foundation, currently has its hands full with restoration projects, the plan is to have this P-38 flying sometime in 2016.  In order to get it airworthy again, Rob Collings President of the Collings Foundation says that, “the P-38 will undergo some mechanical rehabilitation, just from sitting so long, and also some cosmetic…”, work to bring it to modern Warbird standards.  Also to add some of the finishing touches, that were not previously applied. Mr. Collings also annouced, that the P-38 when completed will wear a natural metal finish.  Mr. Collings finally announced that there are no plans to install a second seat, that this P-38 will remain a single seat aircraft.

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Collings Foundaton’s new Bf-109 -10, it formerly belonged to the Evergreen Aviation Museum. Photo Credit: Warbird Registry

Also from the Evergreen Aviation Museum the Collings Foundation also acquired a Messerschmitt Bf-109 G-10.  The foundation has “…not decided whether or not it will be a flyable aircraft”, says Mr. Collings, due to some issues it has.  Reagrdless its restoration will be completed.

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A Curtiss P-40K Warhawk , formerly owned by the Evergreen Aviation Museum, now owned by the Collings Foundation. Photo Credit: Evergreen Aviation Museum

The Collings Foundation’s final aircraft that it acquired from the Evergreen Aviation Museum was a P-40K Warhawk, which is likely to fly again in the future.

Stay tuned for a complete report on Collings Foundation’s aircraft restorations, coming soon.

Check out the original interview with Rob Collings by our friends over at WarbirdRadio.com here

Fighter Ace George Preddy Documentary Trailer

The Collings Foundation Needs Your Help!

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From Bottom to Top: The Collings Foundation’s B-24J Liberator, B-17G Flying Fortress and ultra rare TP-51C Mustang flying in tight formation. Photo Credit: Collings Foundation

“Based in Stow, Massachusetts, the Collings Foundation (501c3) is recognized internationally for the preservation, exhibition and operation of unique and rare historic aircraft and organizing educational living history events. The Stow museum features an incredible collection of over 75 classic automobiles, historic aircraft, tanks, military artifacts and machines.

We are in the process of expanding the facility to build the American Heritage Museum. This will be a state-of-the-art museum that will feature America’s history in the periods of WWI, WWII, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War and Gulf War. Military artifacts will be presented in a museum environment that is both educational and captivating.

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The Race of the Century hosted at the Collings Foundation’s HQ in Stow, Massachusetts. Photo Credit: Collings Foundation

Over the last two years we have been dealing with the mind numbing process of getting the approvals needed through the Stow boards. Apparently, the Planning Board of Stow are the only ones who can dictate what is considered educational. After two years of Planning Board meetings, the board has determined that museums are not educational. The Collings Foundation had another meeting with the Stow Planning Board Wednesday, July 29th. In a three to two vote the Planning Board made the determination that the Collings Foundation’s living history events, staff and docent tours, preservation and exhibition of historical artifacts and aircraft, school tours, STEM programs, Veteran round-table discussions, and so on – are not educational. Sorry to say, we are not making this up. More so, two out of the three on the Planning Board of Stow, Massachusetts who say our programs are not educational and mere “entertainment” – have never attended a living history event or public tour at the Collings Foundation’s museum! Wow….

Most recently, the building inspector usurped the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Commission in regulating aviation. After 37 years of continuous flying from our Stow property, the Stow Building issued a cease and desist order against the Foundation on March 26, 2015 prohibiting take-offs and landings.

Roughly 95% of the Collings Foundation’s flight operations happen during our Open House / Living History events that total six days of the year. People from Stow and all over New England have enjoyed the fantastic experience of flying in these aircraft for years.

We operate in compliance with all FAA regulations and the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission has long approved our airfield. The Aeronautics Commission, in fact, notified the authorities in Stow on May 5, 2015 that the bylaw the Building Commissioner relied upon for his actions was “invalid and unenforceable.” (I have the letter if you want to see it)

Litigation that concluded in 2004 in Middlesex Superior Court confirmed that our operations were in compliance with the bylaws. The Town of Stow’s Zoning Board of Appeals was a party to that action, and it defended, at considerable taxpayer expense, the Collings Foundation’s activities as being in compliance with the bylaws.

Ironically, the very same Town Council who then defended our airfield use is now taking, in the absence of any changed circumstances, but in the face of the same considerable expense, the contrary position that our activities violate the bylaw. No, you can’t make this stuff up!!

Our second living history event called Race of the Century happened on July 25th and 26th. A major part of this event is the exhibition of one of the oldest flying aircraft in the United States – a 1909 Bleriot. National Geographic TV had planned to document this incredible feat of early aviation. After all these years, it is a terrible shame that we could not fly this amazing machine for all to see.

This is just a sampling of the nefarious actions the Stow boards have created in their “selective” governance. We can’t begin to express our most deep disappointment in the town’s elected and appointed officials. What the heck is happening with this town? Is this the sign of things to come once our WWII Veterans are gone? According to the Stow Planning Board, anything that should be considered educational must have Planning Board approved curriculum and testing at the end.

Such a sad state of affairs. Are you as upset as we are with this? Contact the officials in the town of Stow and let them know what you think. As always, it is the people who support educational foundations like the Collings Foundation that make a difference.

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The Collings Foundation’s North American TP-51C Mustang, a fully dual controlled version of the rare “razorback” P-51. Photo Credit: Fence Check

Board of Selectman: selectmen@stow-ma.gov 978.897.4515

Town Administrator: townadministrator@stow-ma.gov 978.897.2927

Building commissioner: building@stow-ma.gov 978-897-2193

Zoning Board of Appeals: townclrerk@stow-ma.gov 978.897.8780

Any questions? Call me directly.

Hunter Chaney
Director of Marketing
Collings Foundation
978.562.9182″

Photo Credit:

Collings Foundation

Fence Check

Pushing the Edge of a Battle Tested Envelope

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Andrew McKenna on take-off roll in his silver P-51D Mustang 44-73420, Leesburg, VA. Photo Credit: Bill Paisley

Many pilots who get bitten by the “warbird bug” like to think of themselves as having been born in the wrong generation.  Andrew McKenna was not born too late, but he probably would have fit in nicely into the middle of the last century.  As an owner and operator of two iconic WWII aircraft, a North American AT-6G Texan and a P-51D Mustang, Mr. McKenna has a keen appreciation for the generation that first flew those warbirds.   Like many warbird pilots and enthusiasts, Mr. McKenna went to airshows as a kid and visited the airport with his father often.  His dad told him at an airshow that he might be able to go for a ride in a P-51 Mustang one day, at which he responded, “I don’t want to go for a ride in one I want to go fly it!”  He soloed shortly after his sixteenth birthday, but did not have the time or the resources to continue and obtain his private pilot license.  Regardless, Mr. McKenna thought of flying every day, and worked hard in school, with the idea that he would one day finish what he had started many years before.

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Andrew McKenna flying his North American T-6G Texan at an airshow. Photo Credit: Bryce Nicely

He finally received his license at 30 years old, and operated a Cessna 400 a single engine fixed-gear aircraft for a year, after which time he acquired his first warbird an AT-6G Texan, which he named “Pamela Marie”.  “Pamela Marie” is an airshow favorite on the East Coast, and is the aircraft on which Mr. McKenna learned necessary skills that would help him graduate to other warbird aircraft.  After mastering the T-6 he transitioned into the legendary P-51 Mustang.  He first soloed Jim Beasley’s Mustang at Chester County Airport. “Sitting at the end of the runway in Jim Beasley’s Bald Eagle and putting the throttle forward on a P-51 Mustang and taking off”, is one of the highlights of his flying career.

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A close up shot of Andrew McKenna flying his P-51 Mustang. Photo Credit: Andrew McKenna

What does it take to fly high performance retired military aircraft at an airshow?  As Mr. McKenna says it’s, “practice, practice, practice”, with a heavy dose of professionalism.  He follows the lead of the pilots he looks up to like Sean Tucker, Rob Holland, Patty Wagstaff, and Lee Lauderback who are all involved in flying aircraft at the highest level. Although Mr. McKenna has a full-time job, he tries, to treat flying as it is as well.  That means “2-3 practices prior to any demonstration…what people don’t know is that I’ll be in that Mustang, five or six times before I ever show up at an airshow”.  Professionalism is of the utmost importance in the airshow flying profession. Before each airshow demonstration Mr. McKenna flies in the morning of the show, walks his demonstration through twice on the tarmac and takes between forty-five minutes and an hour in order to mentally prepare himself for his flights. He uses the extra ground time in order to assess and understand the weather and risks that are involved in flying in each airshow.  In addition, as an airshow performer, he must always be ready to adjust different situations which could occur.  When it comes to preflight rituals, Mr. McKenna is sure that he gets enough sleep, does a workout in the morning prior to the show, and goes to a quiet spot before he flies in order to, “get in the game.  One of his most important preflight rituals that he shares with other airshow performers is that all of his flight gear is arranged exactly the same way every time he goes to fly weather it is in an airshow or not.  Mr. McKenna, also stated that an important part of professionalism is being able to govern yourself and know if you are not ready to fly.  For example, due to the fact that he has primarily been flying his Mustang, he would need at least two weeks in order to become proficient with his aerobatic demo in his T-6.

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Andrew McKenna in the lead position in his North American P-51D Mustang over Washington D.C. to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of VE Day. Photo Credit: Andrew McKenna

Mr. McKenna has had the opportunity to fly in many amazing airshows and events, but one of the most meaningful for him was the flyover that he honoring USAF Lt. Col. Hoagland over Arlington National Cemetery.  Mr. McKenna was in his P-51 Mustang which was carrying Hoagland’s nose art for the flight, followed by four USAF F-22 Raptors.  Mr. McKenna is honored to be able to give back to active or former military personnel in this way.  In terms of most exciting moments flying, Mr. McKenna enjoys flying in formation with Jim Beasley, his mentor.

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Andrew McKenna flying his P-51 Mustang 44-73420. Photo Credit: Andrew McKenna

Mr. McKenna is also a strong believer in keeping his aircraft stock, “stars and bars”.  As he says, “I am a big let the aircraft do the talking” it is all about the aircraft, and he knows that he is a caretaker of history or as he likes to say the “keeper of the keys”, he is humble.  Although he is a fan of all warbirds and their pilots, he has great respect for those who choose to fly at the highest level, “flying the aircraft the way it was meant to be flown…to push yourself to learn how to fly these aircraft and to fly them to what they are capable of”. To really push the edge of the envelope…