Monday, May 13, 2019

Local Girl Drops By For A Visit

On my travels yesterday, I was heading in to work, when the full rumble of proper radial piston engines caught my attention, just in time to see a truly rare sight overhead:

one of the few surviving B-17s passing overhead on its way to John Wayne Airport for a local show. Not looking too shabby for being 74 this year. It started its life in Long Beach in late 1945, coming off the Douglas line at nearby Long Beach, back when California still built airplanes.

It isn't often one sees a B-17 in the pattern anywhere, and I'm happy to note that I stood there watching it pass until it couldn't be seen any longer and the rumble died away on the breeze.

And then, to reward me for stopping to notice, came the pursuit to that opening act, with a sound that cannot be mistaken for anything else:

I'm going to have to move getting a ride on both of those things up on my bucket list, before the chance for such a ride goes away forever.

Spendy? Yeah, a tad.
But compared to never getting the chance?
I'm game.

Hell, I'd pay a couple of C-notes just to get the chance to thumb through the original logbooks of the real Nine-O-Nine (the current one went into service in 1945, too late to see action, though it was around for a couple of 1950s A-bomb tests, and put out a lot of wildfires after leaving the military), and see what scenic parts of Europe it visited and redecorated circa 1943-44.

And I wish I could trace the same history for my 5-digit Garand, purchased as ROK hand-me-down, after being manufactured in late 1940, it must certainly have whacked some Commies, at least, before finally being left behind south of the 38th Parallel after 1953.


Anonymous said...

Your M1 Garand number charts are incorrect. I own a Garand Built at Springfield in 1956. It is one of the last 3000 built. Mine was selected and assembled as a type 1 National Match

Aesop said...

Dear Anonymous Boil On The Internet's @$$

1) They're not "my" Garand number charts. The hotlink to another site should have been sort of a clue. (See Internet 101: How the Internet Works).
2) They're not "incorrect". They may be "incomplete". That's someone else's problem, not mine.
3) None of that means fuck-all about when one with a 5-digit serial # was manufactured, or did the entire point of the relevant sentence fly right past you while you were "But, but!"ing?

That's three strikes. Thanks for playing, and we have some lovely parting gifts for you.

If you didn't pay for Abuse, the Pendantry Blog is probably a couple of doors down.
If you tiptoe away quietly now, I promise not to milk your post, and my reply, into tomorrow's headline.
If not, well, you do the math on that...

Barry said...

You most definitely want a flight on the Colling's Foundation aircraft. I've snagged a flight on each of their touring WW2 birds over the last few years to include both the P-51C and P-51D; splurged and purchased both of my sons a 30-minute flight in the P-51D "Toulouse Nuts" as a birthday/Xmas gift to them. I enjoy seeing and flying in those old birds enough that I became a plane sponsor; the best part of that is it allows me to reserve and use up to four seats when the planes hop from one location to another. I have no problem with finding a rental car and driving back to the point of origin.
A bit of advice: bring earplugs and ear muffs; those old radial engines are *loud*!

Badger said...

Wow, talk about cameo appearances that make your day... congrats. Waking up on the right side of the dirt was a good move for that day anyway. Thanks for sharing.

As a kid in the San Fernando Valley I used to stand on my porch & watch old B-17's and PBY's do their fire bombing thing on the "Not Yet Due to Global Warming/Crisis/Moronic Water Policy Hysteria But Just Part of Nature" wild fires. Thermals; man, that had to be a bumpy ride.

Aesop said...


Canoga Park alum here!
Used to watch from the garage roof as all the nearby fires tore up the surrounding hills every year.

Wildfire is just nature's way of telling stupid people not to build shake-roof houses in canyons filled with dry brush.

RHT447 said...

A topic near and dear to my heart.

My dad was a B-17 pilot and flew 35 combat missions over Europe with this group--

When we lived in Chico, CA the Colling's Foundation ships would stop on their tour because Aero Union had a shop for their fire bombers at the Chico airport. It was handy if they needed to perform any maintenance. I actually won a WWII history contest on the local radio station, the prize for which was a ride on 909. I got to tell my dad, too.

When they stopped by again a few years later, I just happened to strike up a conversation with a white-haired gentleman from Paradise. Turned out he was a B-17 navigator, and flew two of his missions aboard 909. We went through 909 together (on the ground) starting at the nose hatch. I had my DV camera running the whole time. He invited me to his house later, and I got to spend a few hours listing to his stories.

JT said...

Around 1992, two junior high history nerds were sitting around their lunchyard talking about what the best WWII bomber was. The debate raged: US or other, 2 or 4 engines, and so on. And then, I kind you not, we both heard a distant rumble. We looked at each other and froze. A precious minute went by and the droning got louder - I looked at my buddy and said "That's a 4 engine prop plane!" This meant only one thing. We ran at top speed out to the quad and at that moment a B17, not sure which one, buzzed our school at maybe 500 feet on approach to the Stockton Airport. You could FEEL the engines rattling your internal organs. I think one of us wept. It was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen (and felt).

Unknown said...

Planes of Fame in Chino offers some very unusual formations. I'm about 25 west of there. Last week I saw a B-25 and a P-39 tucked on it's wing then sliding over to the other side.

Once when ready to depart in a WWII OY-2 (liason) at Paso Robles, I waited while Sentimental Journey was on approach. A Piper Cub and an Aeronca had just made a T&G, and behind the B-17 was a Vultee B-13. It was a sunny day in early summer, the soft wind wafting through the alfalfa fields infield of the runways the scent of hay and 100LL filling the nostrils. For a minute I felt that this could have been a scene right out of the 1940s. It was a magical moment and a cherished memory.

I suppose the Confederate Airforce chapter at KCMA Camarillo might still give rides other than at airshows. It is worth a call so you don't have to wait for a show.

Dinochrome One said...

While stationed at NAS Lemoore, I remember standing in the terminal at Fresno airport and watching a B-17 water-bomber take off; the back half of the plane was painted Rescue-Orange and it took the entire length of the runway to get off the ground. Later, I spotted a convoy on Highway 99 headed north with the fuselage, wings and engine belonging to a F-4U Corsair; obviously taken from a display-pylon somewhere. The trucks were all marked for the Confederate Air Force Midnight Requisition Squad!

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago in Santa Margarita, Ca there was a tractor/heavy equipment show and as part of it several small planes flew into the local private field. One was a P51 Mustang. A beautiful and powerful machine. I went over to complement the pilot on his plane. Of course I had to mention that my Dad had flown an F4U from the carrier Essex toward the end of WWII. He pulled out his phone and showed me pictures of the fuselage of an F4U that he had recently purchased. He didn't get the wings and was in the process of fabricating jigs to build them. What a hobby! My Dad always raved about the F4U (he never flew again after the war) and said he would put it against any WWII fighter. He used to swap insults with a former Lufwatt (?) pilot who worked with him - something about engine in a drawer vs. Wings that told up.

Anonymous said...

...of course that should be "..wings that fold up."

Anonymous said...

I also watched what we called " borate bombers" as a kid in the San Gabriel valley. Spectacular flying, that.
Got to go to Reno on our way to Thunder Ranch in 09. Auditory orgasm.
I was driving home from work last year and saw an F4U on final, turns out to belong to our very nice local museum. Nearly all of the aircraft here are flyers, including the only surviving Brewster built Corsair.
Boat Guy

Jim Horn said...

May I strongly recommend AirVenture, a.k.a. Oshkosh?

Anonymous said...

I live close enough to the Everett, WA aerodrome complex to hear the music of B-25s and other vintage warbirds. it is cool!

Badger said...

@ Aesop
Van Nuys here, small world, heh. (Although I see by current maps that my little piece of it became Sherman Oaks now or everything south of Burbank Blvd. maybe...)

Left in '69 (thanks Uncle Sam); not been back. Yeah, even as a kid I used to marvel at the "Let's suspend our house 80% out over the canyon on a pair of 4x4's (so we can alide in later). Then let's rebuild and this time we'll go somewhere where there's lots of understory & not clear around the house because "endangered ant or something" and then our house can go up like a 500# GP dumb bomb when the wind changes."

I admire your stick-to-it-iveness; absent any envy though, except missing the sound of Clay Lacy's purple P-51D.

Aesop said...

Hey, if I'd had a paltry $50K in 1980, I coulda owned that orphan B-25 at VNY, and it's worth $1M now.
I would've painted in in Jimmy Doolittle's 1942 livery, and overflown the annual Tokyo Raiders' conventions until last year.
And the Japanese consulate. ;)

RandyGC said...

My 7 digit Garand built in 54-55 probably never got whack a Commie. :-(

If your's was given to the ROK, it's quite possible it continued whacking Commies after 53 during the several intramural matches that took place in the DMZ in the 50's and 60's.

Will said...

Some time around 1980, give or take a few years, I got to climb through most of a B-17 at an airshow at Moffet NAS. Not overly roomy, even for a small guy in a t-shirt. Would have been a tight squeeze in a heated suit for use over Europe.
Films seemed to make that aircraft appear much larger inside.
Lived in Sunnyvale then, right under Moffet's glide path. If it landed there, I saw, heard, and/or felt it. Good times!