Warbirds and Airshows
By David D Jackson

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 2013 Airshows
Titusville (Tico), FL   NAS Key West, FL   Chino, CA   Indy 500 Fly-Over   Reading, PA WWII Weekend   CWH Show, Hamilton, ONT   Dayton, OH   Muncie, IN   Topeka, KS   Purdue University, IN   Thunder over Michigan, Belleville, MI   Hillsdale, MI   Marion, IN   Waukegan, IL   Glendale Airport, Kokomo, IN   Rome, GA   Peachtree City, GA   Houston, TX   Urbana, OH B-25 Gathering   B-25 Doolittle Memorial Fly-over at Dayton, OH

Thunder Over Michigan Airshow Warbird Photo Review
Warbirds at Willow Run Airport, Belleville, MI - August 9-10, 2012  (Photos taken 8-10) 

  For me Thunder is always an event I look forward to each year with great anticipation as the airshow crew there always puts together a great line up of warbirds.  This year the show had several challenges to endure and overcome.  First off was sequester and the cancellation of USAF Thunderbird participation for the show which had been scheduled for Father's Day weekend in June.  When that happened the organizers decided to move back into their normal August weekend, which caused them to lose several Hueys that had a previous commitment in August.  Also lost to the line up were the Mosquito and ME-262 from the Military Aviation Museum when the owner put the entire collection up for sale and did not honor his commitments to this and other shows.  But in spite of all this and the fact that there was a concrete plant at airshow center due to runway repairs, the organizers were able to put together a good collection of warbirds for the event.  That being said I am not sure that Thunder will continue to be a "must attend" event after this year's event.

Unfortunately this is the second show in 2013 that I have been to and not seen the B-17 "Yankee Lady" fly as promised in pre show literature.  At Reading in June on Saturday as was noted in my report for that event the B-17 was still trying to unload passengers from a flight and then get ready when air boss cancelled the B-17 because the show was 20 minutes behind.  If the show had been on schedule the B-17 still wouldn't have been available because it would have been out giving rides.  If it had stayed on the ground at Reading it would have been at the right time and place and been able to fly with the other bombers that launched.  At Reading there were many aircraft giving rides and only the B-17 failed to be ready to fly in the show on Saturday.

It was published that the B-17 "Yankee Lady" would fly in the show on the Thunder over Michigan airshow website for this year.  She was also doing rides as I could see her in the distance take off on runway 27 at the north end of the field periodically all day long on Saturday.  I have to assume the B-17 flight team was too busy to take time to participate in the show as it deemed the extra revenue it could make on another ride was worth depriving the paying airshow crowd of the chance to see her fly.  I come to this possible conclusion with much trepidation as I know that the B-17 team has great leadership and a very hard working and dedicated crew.  I have never known them to miss a show due to mechanical problems and they are always very professional to deal and work with.  So I am puzzled why this group would consciously short change its loyal following of spectators that come out each year to see her fly at Thunder over Michigan. 

At the same time I am also puzzled by the actions of airshow management and not making sure the B-17 set aside time out its ride schedule of a a half an hour or so to participate in WWII Fly-bys as had been advertised.  Having a B-17 fly at any show is always both a crowd draw and crowd pleaser all at the same time.  The airshow team at Thunder I know spends a whole year working and planning the event along with much time contacting and communicating with the warbirds to get them booked into the show.  Nothing is more frustrating after doing all of this work than to have one the aircraft that is on the field not have time or be allowed the time to be showcased properly.  So having the show team consciously not fly one of their star and most popular warbirds does not make any sense to me.  And to not fly it either Saturday or Sunday is even more disturbing as it was not a one time problem.

It is my understanding that all of the money raised by the B-17 flights are for the continued maintenance of the aircraft.  The ride programs that many of the warbirds do now are have been instrumental in keeping these venerable warbirds in the air.  But if as in the case of "Yankee Lady" all of the money being raised by the flights are going into maintenance costs so it can do more rides and not be showcased to the public, then why expend the effort and run up time on the airframe and engines as it becomes a vicious cycle.  If that is the case it would be best to ground the aircraft and not put more time on her as nothing is really being accomplished.

In looking at all of this I have to conclude that the B-17 ride profits are being siphoned off by Yankee Air Museum corporate management for other projects and to cover museum overhead.  Also right now it is in the midst of well intentioned campaign to save part of the Willow Run Bomber Plant which just to buy the specified property is 7.5 million dollars.  So if money is being taken away from the maintenance of the B-17 to help fund the Bomber Plant project and overhead, then the flight crew has almost no option but to try and run as many flights as possible to fund maintenance costs.

In the end raising prices as was done at the show this year while at the same time giving the customer less and not looking out for what the customer wants is not a business plan that will succeed in the long run.  All YAF corporate management needs to do is look about 15 miles to the east at the remnants of a once vibrant US auto to see that this does not work.

 In a nutshell: Don't bite the hand that feeds you!

Postscript:  Actually I may have been too kind in that it appears the B-17 "Yankee Lady" flight team has gone over to the dark side and sold their collective souls to the devil.  Greed will do that to you.  Further information from the Waukesha, WI airshow on August 24-25 reveals that "Yankee Lady" was allowed to come to the event and give rides if it promised to fly a couple of passes at the show, which it apparently agreed to.  Probably the B-17 paid all of its own expenses for the right to give the rides at the event.  This differs from what has been past practice where the show pays the costs to get the aircraft there.  So the show gets a B-17 on the ramp for free.  From what I have heard the B-17s that are doing this are making more money than if they were a paid by the show as the ride business seems to be very lucrative.  However, in this particular case there apparently was a verbal agreement between the parties (Always get it in writing!!) that "Yankee Lady" would fly a couple of passes each day for the show in return for being allowed to operate at the show and make money from the ride program.  The air boss set up a short flight window each day for the B-17 to fly in the event but "Yankee Lady" was a no show each time at the designated time.  This would have left the show with dead time and no doubt a disappointed audience as probably the air show narrator had previously announced that the B-17 would give a couple of show passes.  Everyone lost in this.  The airshow, the spectators and the "Yankee Lady".  DDJ 9-4-2013

Airfield orientation for photographers: Facing west.  This works out well for the WWII battle at 10:30 in the morning.  For some reason it always seems to cloud up in the afternoon at Thunder so orientation is not an issue.  But it would be nice to have the sun come out one year.


After 11 years of restoration Grumman C-1A "Miss Belle" owned by Trader Air is back out on the airshow circuit for the second week in a row, having been at Topeka the previous weekend.  In 2002 she the number one engine blew a cylinder which also destroyed the prop governor forcing her down into a cornfield in Illinois.  Only superb handling by the flight crew in 2002 saved the plane and the crew.  It is great to see her back out in front of the public again.


I was not in my normal position along the front line when the 10:30 WWII re-enactment started.  But this worked out in that I was able to photograph the two Mustangs and one B-25 from another prospective to show how low they were flying, which is a trademark of the Thunder of Michigan WWII re-enactment.  The choice of P-51 and B-25 is optimal due to the distinctive and loud sounds of both type aircraft.


The Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, OH had its B-25J Georgie's Girl flying the WWII battle scenario.


This was not as close as it looks as there was horizontal separation between the aircraft.  But in the WWII re-enactment the aircraft are going in both directions at the time.  


In the background is concrete plant the air show organizers have to put up with.  The morning WWII battle scene with armor, cannon blasts and a dedicated announcer was superior to the after noon Vietnam battle which did not have any of those and was rather blasť.


Men of all ages are in the WWII battle re-enactment.  The white haired gentlemen here is a WWII veteran.


AD-1 Skyraider from the Warbird Heritage Foundation checks out her wing fold.


Rob Reider did a great job of singing the National Anthem, as he always does.


Starting off the show with a great Legacy Flight of Navy aircraft.


Another warbird from the Warbird Heritage Foundation, the Douglas A-4B Skyhawk.


Dave Folk in the Corsair and Vlado Lenoch in the Mustang did a routine where one flew in trail of the other.  Here Dave pulls the F4U into the break for landing.


The lone Sky Soldiers Huey down low to the north the construction equipment as it brings in troops for the Vietnam battle.



The Grunts were obviously wearing seatbelts as required as they took a long time to get out of the Huey.  In combat the time lag would have been unacceptable and possibility fatal.


An O-2 flew overhead as a FAC.


Something is off in the distance.  Is it a plane?  Is it a bird?  Whatever it is, it is definitely not faster than a speeding bullet!!!


No, its Thunder Pig!!!  A favorite of the small group I was with because of our association with her at the Indy Airshow.  Air Heritage in Beaver Falls, PA has done a great job in keeping something this complex flying and is the only C-123 flying on the airshow circuit..  There is one in North Carolina that is supposedly flying but I have never seen evidence of it.  The one at Tico in Florida needs a large infusion of cash to get it in the air.


It is always great to see Thunder Pig at a show.  And the sun even came out for a short time for this photo.


Spooky was kept overhead in a high orbit during the entire sequence.


Skyraiders then came in to support the ground troops.


The WWII Fly-bys included these two nice Texans. 


Last year this AT-11 was static only.  It was great to see her flying.


The C-47 from the YAF flew in the procession.


This is a rarity.  B-25 "Briefing Time" from the Mid Atlantic Air Museum is usually static only.  She does not even fly at her home show during WWII Weekend in Reading, PA.


 Georgie's Girl flew a second time for the crowd.


An unusual formation here.


Right here should be a photo of the B-17 "Yankee Lady". 


Back again in 2013 was Dean Cutshall giving us after burner passes in the F-100.






First Stages of a three ship North American Aviation Heritage Flight.


 Three ship North American Aviation Heritage Flight of P-51, F-86 and F-100.

Titusville (Tico), FL   NAS Key West, FL   Chino, CA   Indy 500 Fly-Over   Reading, PA WWII Weekend   CWH Show, Hamilton, ONT   Dayton, OH   Muncie, IN   Topeka, KS   Purdue University, IN   Thunder over Michigan, Belleville, MI   Hillsdale, MI   Marion, IN   Waukegan, IL   Glendale Airport, Kokomo, IN   Rome, GA   Peachtree City, GA   Houston, TX   Urbana, OH B-25 Gathering   B-25 Doolittle Memorial Fly-over at Dayton, OH
 

 


 
Home  Indiana Museums    Indiana Tanks on Outside Display   The Beginning    Revisions   First Flight of P-38F Glacier Girl  
USS Theodore Roosevelt    WWII Aircraft Manufacturing Sites    Gateguards
 2007 Airshows   2008 Airshows  22009 Airshows   2010 Airshows    2011 Airshows    2012 Airshows   2013 Airshows   2014 Airshows    2015 Airshows  2016 Airshows  
Aviation Museums of the Pacific Northwest
   Display Helicopter Locations   CAL FIRE   PV-2 Harpoon Photos     F6F Hellcat Photos
   Warbird Sightings   WWII US Air-Air Victories   Guest Photos    Indiana Warbirds   Featured Photos  Other Items   Links

Historic Sites   Historic Forts   Historic Texas Independence Sites   Pre-Historic Sites   Historic Manhattan Project Sites   GM Heritage Center


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