Happy late Birthday P-40 Warhawk

Since yesterday was the 77th anniversary of the first flight of the P-40 Warhawk and today is my weekly aviation Thursday post, I thought, why not combine them. On October 14th, 1938 Curtiss test pilot Edward Elliott flew XP-40 for the first time over Buffalo, NY. Edward flew for some 300 miles in 57 minutes at an average speed of 315mph. The P-40 was improved to go up to 366mph. In April 1939 the United States Army Air Corps placed the largest order for single seat fighters up to that point of 524 P-40’s. P-40’s became a training and front line fighter for years until other fighters replaced it. The P-40 has a huge legacy that spans the length of the globe. One of the first planes I wrote about in this new blog section is the P-40. Why? Because it is one of my favorite Warbirds. You can read about it’s history here. Happy Birthday Warhawk.

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Flying with the Fleet

One of the great things about having friends with airplanes is the occasional flight. Taking good photographs doesn’t hurt either. While down in Houston I got to go flying with the Texas Legends on a couple flights, partly through projects my Dad was working on. The day after I got to Houston they put up all their ships on another photo shoot for another photographer, one of those aircraft was the B-25 bomber. Their B-25 “Betty’s Dream” is one of three B-25’s that are most accurately restored in the country. IT is absolutely beautiful inside the plane. The nice thing about a B-25 is that their are a lot of seats. In the back there are three seats, radio operator, tail gunner and waist gunner. I got to be in the back shooting out the escape hatch, which comes out, and the two waist window plexiglass windows.

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The one plane that does stick out in the group is the Zero to the far left. It actually isn’t a Zero but a modified T6 from the Tora! Tora! Tora! performing group. It was flown by a friend of the Texas boys and the main photographer was in it. With a swivel seat it makes shooting out of a T6 much easier. I have to say though my seat in the back of the B-25 didn’t suck either.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Texas Legends do their reutine at Houston

I got home last night and am still getting through images. It was just a ton of fun photographing planes this past week at Ellington Field. For the warbird enthusiast, Wings over Houston really is a good airshow to go to. It’s just non stop warbirds flying and since it is only a couple days long it makes it really time convenient for other projects. One of the groups that is based on the field is the Texas Flying Legends Museum. Their fleet includes eleven flying aircraft all with amazing histories. They were up doing their routine Saturday and Sunday.

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Their performance is amazing. In a fifteen minute show they reenact battles in the Pacific with the Zero, B-25 and P-40. The Corsair then comes in and so do the mustangs in formation. The whole performance is quite amazing with the hardest critiques being done by the pilots. Sunday Warren Pietsch went up and truly showed off nimbleness of the Zero.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

True Racing

This is why we go to the races, for the rush. If you are into speed and racing, then there is no better rush than when a plane goes by you at 500mph. It makes your head spin so fast that you do a double take to see what just happened. Over the years I have been blessed by the photo gods being able to capture some great moments at the races. Two of my favorite were actually in the first couple of years.

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The first one was when a stack up, what we call when two planes are next to each other during a pass, occurred between two P-40 Warhawks. Stack ups are one of the coolest things in racing. They don’t happen often and are often the most dangerous times for the pilots, due to a lack of options if something goes wrong.

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The second time is when I got to go to Home Pylon and see the race from a different perspective. It’s the only place on field where you can see the planes going by with the Grand Stands for the background. It’s really freakin cool and was a special trip. Needless to say it doesn’t happen often, so to get up there once is unbelievable.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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