Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Here are some Warbirds flown by Irishmen in World War II.  Thank you for your sacrifice and for protecting our freedom.

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2nd Lt. Gerald Devine, 350th FS 353rd FG, P-51D Mustang 44-14673 LH-I “Mad Irishman”

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Lockheed P-38J 42-67842 “Irish Lassie”

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1st Lt. Gilbert O’Brien, 357th FG, P-51B “Shanty Irish”

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

Collings Foundation Continues To Grow

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The Collings Foundation’s TF-51D “Toulouse Nuts” while in service with the West Virginia Air Guard, 167th Fighter Squadron.

The Collings Foundation is continuing to expand it’s collection of WWII aircraft since it recently acquired second B-17G for their collection “Shady Lady”, a P-38L Lightning, a Bf-109 G-10, and  a second P-40 Warhawk in August 2015. (See article here) The Foundation’s North American TF-51D is nearing completion and also they recently acquired a very rare Pt-17 Stearman operated by the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII.

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The Collings Foundation’s TF-51D “Toulouse Nuts” under restoration at American Aero Services in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

The Collings Foundation’s North American TF-51D ‘Toulouse Nuts’, will be joining the National Wings of Freedom Tour in 2016.  The Collings Foundation says that their TF-51D is one of the finest restored to date, “…tens of thousands of hours went into rebuilding this fighter to ‘brand new’ condition. Every surface, rivet, wire and instrument is perfect. The 1450 hp Merlin engine looks like it just came off the factory floor”.  The Foundation’s example of the TF-51D is one of three original survivors in the world, and will be painted in its original colors, “…as a West Virginia Air Guard, 167th Fighter Squadron P-51 called ‘Toulouse Nuts’ “.  “The TF-51D model is a unique Mustang variant with a full dual cockpit and bubble canopy. Following in the footsteps of the Foundation’s beloved P-51C Mustang “Betty Jane,” the new TF-51D “Toulouse Nuts” will be available for flight training during the national Wings of Freedom Tour. Imagine flying the legendary P-51 Mustang as it had just rolled out of TEMCO / North American Aviation!”

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The Collings Foundation’s newly acquired PT-17 Stearman, operated by the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII.

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The Collings Foundation’s Stearman was flown by Tuskegee Institute Field Instructor James J. Hyett on several training flights during WWII.

The Foundation, also recently acquired the only flyable PT-17 Stearman operated by the Tuskegee Airmen s/n 41-25454.  The only other example is on static display in the Smithsonian.  According to the Collings Foundation, “the U.S. Army accepted the aircraft from Boeing’s Wichita Division in 1942. It was transferred to Tuskegee Institute Field, Alabama in 1943…In November, 1944 this Stearman was sent to Bush Field, Augusta where it was stricken from U.S. Army records and moved to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for sale”.  This Stearman was transferred to the Collings Foundation in 2015, after undergoing a meticulous restoration by Joseph Armstrong of Towanda, Pennsylvania to brand new condition.  The Collings Foundation plans to operate this Stearman to honor the Tuskegee Airmen and, “… to those who overcame racial discrimination and persevered against adversaries to become one of the greatest fighter pilot groups in United States history. The Tuskegee are credited with some 15,500 combat sorties and earned over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements during WWII”.

 

Information Credit: Collings Foundation

Photo Credit: Collings Foundation

Article Written By: Thomas Reilly

Help Rebuild Air Racer- Precious Metal P-51

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Help the Precious Metal Air Racing Team to raise 500k to rebuild Precious Metal to airworthy and racing status.  Precious Metal was recently involved in a fire on the ground after refueling.  Pilot Thom Richard was not injured.

To Donate visit: Precious Metal Air Racing Team’s GoFundMe Page

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

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…