Patrol Squadron 3, 1937

Posing proudly before their PBY at NAS North Island in the fall of 1937 are the men of VP-3. Of additional interest are the large numbers of enlisted pilots (note the wings on their chests). VP-3 had already racked up some impressive achievements with their new patrol bombers.  The PBY was not shattering existing speed records, but this being said, the PBY’s single wing, no landing gear, and a minimum of external braces all contributed to fairly low drag, meaning the early PBY was, by 1937 standards, a speedy enough machine. Its rated top speed was only 170 knots, but this was comparable to most fighter aircraft of the period, they mostly being biplanes with fixed landing gear.

None of that makes the PBY an agile and swift aircraft, but that was something the plane was never designed to be. My dad flew the PBY during World War II and he will tell you to this day that the aircraft could take off at 90 knots, cruise at 90 knots, and land at 90 knots. But he will also tell you that the PBY was a gas miser that could fly seemingly forever. The longest PBY flight in his logbook: 22 hours, non-stop from NAS North Island to Pearl Harbor. A more routine time was 14 hours but according to dad their Direction Finder died, and to make matters more exciting, they also had quite a quartering headwind that both slowed them down and pushed them off course. By off course we’re talking a couple hundred miles south of the Hawaiian islands.

They tossed out everything they didn’t need, and when Hawaii was finally found, Dad & co. were showing zero fuel and were obliged to fly the last 30 minutes at wave-top altitude so they could simply plop in the ocean when the gas gave out (Just one of the nice things about a flying boat). But the gas held out, and foregoing all air traffic control rules, Dad flew his PBY so low up the Pearl Harbor channel he had to weave his way around navy ships as he brought his gas-starved bird in for a smooth landing alongside Ford Island. 


Friends in a friendly land

Found this last week on ebay listed as a 1930’s RAF photo. After receiving said picture, a closer examination showed it to be yes, RAF, but it was taken in America during World War II (Note the “USA” titles worn by some of the men). Most who know a thing or two about WWII aviation also know that the airmen of many Allied nations trained in the United States during that time. With wide-open spaces, fair weather, and, most importantly, a noticeable lack of Luftwaffe fighters to distract you, the US was the logical place to learn the fundamentals of flight. 

 Men of Britain and other nations were welcomed, and by the time the program ended thousands of airmen had been trained in what was obviously a very successful idea. To those who may disagree I offer this: Name one man in the RAF who was shot down in American skies by Luftwaffe fighters.

I rest my case.

Hot “Dog” (1) (3)

The “D” model of the famed F-86 Sabre was, of course, labeled the “Dog” model. However, this was not just for the phonetically proper D-for-Dog but for what that model’s radome did to alter the aircraft’s appearance. Compared to the previous Sabre models whose front end was an intake (comparisons were made between it and a fish with its mouth open), the addition of the black radome did indeed give the D model the look of some sort of canine. 

The 15th Fighter Interceptor Squadron flew the F-86D from 1954-1957. The latter date coincides with that of this photo. Well, photo yes, but it is actually a postcard used by “Tex and Paky”.

PS. Get it?: Hot “Dog”…D Model…”Sunny Tucson”…(?) Yeah…

The 59th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of Goose Bay Air Base in the less than tropic land of Labrador, Canada, in 1957 (6) (10) (9) (8) (3) (11) (7)Who doesn’t look forward to a little refresher in the fine art of arctic survival? You can see the enthusiasm written all over their (5)Classy VW Bug in front of 59th squadron ops. The alert barn is to the right with an F-89 Scorpion getting some (4)Goose Bay Air Base alert facility. T-33’s are lined up in the (2)Although the C-118 and C-124 are hidden by snowbanks, the melting ice tells us that summer cannot be too far off. It will be warm, just not for very (12)SA-16’s of the 54th Air Rescue Squadron are dwarfed by the SAC hangars at Goose Bay. These hangars, along with many of the other such buildings in these photos, are still in use today. When one looks at these photos, it is sometimes hard to believe they were taken over six decades ago. The aircraft are long scrapped or, if lucky, in a museum. The young men are now old – most around 90 years of age – but they will remain, for a least a few moments here, forever young.

USAF Firepower Demonstration (1) (5) (4) (3) (2)’s the early 1960’s and the USAF is providing the taxpayers with a sample of the hardware they have available to deter anti-social behavior. We have B-52’s, the C-130, KC-135, B-58, and for the grand finale, the F-100’s of the USAF Thunderbirds. Oh, there is also a nifty two-tone 1958 Ford station wagon, and redheaded and blonde dames baking in the Nevada sun.