Bringing in FiFi, the world’s only flying B29 superfortress
I have a work colleague to thank for my interest in aviation and in particular, WW II aviation. WW II warbirds are beautifully photogenic and even more fun to fly in. If anyone would have told me at some point in my life I would become fascinated with attending airshows like this one, I would have thought they were nuts.
As is usually the way things happen with me, I was surfing the web for something – can’t remember what – when I noticed this link to the CAF Airpower History Tour (a road/runway tour, if you will) coming up in about a month (this was back in September and the airshow was scheduled for Oct 2 – 5). So, on the spur of the moment, I bought a ticket and booked an aerobatic Stearman ride for Oct 4.
Dallas was a 3-hour drive…..I thought. In truth, Dallas from where I live is a 5-hour drive. Totally worth it, though. I took along both my Canon 1DX and 5D Mk III along with the 24-70mm, 16-35mm, and 70-200mm lenses.
By the time I actually arrived, the parking area was packed. I had no idea airshows pulled in such crowds.
Looking over it all – the Ladies For Liberty were gracious enough to let me climb onto their stage overlooking the airfield.
Compared to other airshows, this one was relatively small. Nonetheless, it was filled with neat planes and jeeps of the era, re-enactors, a wonderful singing trio (The Ladies For Liberty) reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters and the veterans themselves, representing all the military branches. People like me viewed these amazing warbirds; the veterans actually experienced the warbirds.
The Ladies For Liberty during a performance.
My aerobatic ride on the Stearman was the bomb! It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. And the feeling of gravity pulling down as the pilot did maneuvers such as a loop, 2 spins, a roll, a lazy eight, and one other maneuver (can’t remember the name), was crazy! I squealed with glee wildly every time a maneuver was executed.
Strapped into a parachute…..just in case…
Becky and Bill, my pilot, in the Stearman ready for takeoff!
Regarding the photo above, I had to laugh (at him and at myself for getting outdone): this guy paid a little over $1500 for the privilege of riding in this primo spot on FiFi, and he used a camera phone…..gah! I’m saving up so that in 2015, I’m going to ride where this fellow rode on FiFi, the “Flying Fortress”.
Speaking of FiFi and the other large planes: we all stood relatively close to the planes as they made their way from the runway back to their display location. During the time those planes kept their engines running, I could hear the deep, loud drone and could feel the power of each plane through the soles of my shoes. Can you imagine more than one of these great planes out on the airfield, ready to ferry their cargo of soldiers into the war zone?
Underneath the Texas Raiders B-17.
The Texas Raiders taxiing into her spot.
The CAF is still working on next year’s schedule but it looks like their San Marcos, TX, stop is going to be the closest one to me (which is nice because that’s less than 5-hours to get there).
Navy Stearman taking off.
A Stearman close up.
The “Gunfighter” P-51.
The Texas Raiders takes to the air.
The Yellow Rose B-25 taking off.
Ready For Duty R4D nose art. This plane is the navy version of the C-47, which is what my father flew in as a paratrooper during WW II.
Inside the R4D.