Monday, November 30, 2009
Finally, a picture of Matty Laird, builder of the originals of a couple of the airplanes above, shortly before his death in 1982.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
This P-51 was based in Illinois in the 1960s. In the years since then, it has been involved in at least four serious accidents, each time being repaired or rebuilt. The last, in 2007, killed its owner, but the plane was repairable and will fly again.
Owned by an aircraft broker during the 1960s, this P-51 was destroyed in a 1971 crash.
The "STP Special" was a Mustang modified for air racing, and is seen here at the 1969 national air races at Reno, Nevada. For few heady years, it looked like air racing might attract the kind of major sponsors and public prominence associated with stock car racing, but during the 1970s this dream gradually died, and air racing became a niche interest until revived by the current Red Bull series under a very different formula. This machine raced into the 1970s, was retired to a museum, and is currently under restoration.
This Mustang has been more or less continuously airworthy since the 1960s, and remains so to the present day.
Owned by North American Rockwell, the corporate descendant of the company that built the P-51s, this airplane was displayed at airshows by test pilot and legendary aerobatic performer Bob Hoover. In 1970, it was damaged when an oxygen bottle exploded on the ground. Hoover switched to a new Mustang, and this one was repaired and flown by other owners. Today it flies in France.
I'll probably post another installment of Dick's photos of this popular aircraft in the next few weeks.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
The airliner paint schemes of the 1970s, when it was neither fashionable nor feasible to make large jets look like killer whales or wilderness post cards, often flattered the lines of the aircraft with their clean "cheat lines" (i.e., those stripes along the fuselage) and understated logos.
This American Airlines 707 was caught landing at Lambert Field in St. Louis in 1977. American's aircraft wear this paint scheme to this day, although not as much of the plane is silver nowadays, as so many parts are not made of metal.
Pictured at Lambert on the same day, a 707 in what was then the new Trans World Airlines paint scheme.
From Toronto, a 707 in the classic "speedbird" livery of BOAC, the British Overseas Airways Corp., pictured in 1973.
Taken a few years earlier (1968), this Pan Am 707 was visiting the U.S. Air Force base at Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, during wartime. The involvement of the airlines in southeast Asian military operations during that period remains largely an untold story.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Johnson, and his company, did not always heed his own advice. Some of the Lockheed designs in which he participated, including the P-38 Lightning fighter and the Constellation and L-1011 airliners, were prevented by inordinate complexity from being as successful as they deserved to be on the basis of their performance. But the Lockheed F-80, America's first successful jet fighter plane, was a perfect expression of Johnson's philosophy. Small, light, and effective, it was just what the first, underpowered generation of jet fighters needed to be.
Dick was one of the first mechanics on F-80s, and served as crew chief on the type in Panama and Europe from 1948 to 1950. These photos are of the planes he worked on during those years. He spoke and wrote fondly of the ease of maintaining this simple, stupid, wonderful airplane.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Dick was involved in preparing the Strawberry Bitch for its final ferry flight to the museum, and took several 6x9 cm photos of the final preparations. The black-and-white negatives have survived in better shape than the color transparencies, but people like color, so I have scanned and corrected the color shots for this post.