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Thoughts on Crew Resource Management (CRM)

by Tori Williams 1. December 2018 18:18
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Crew Resource Management (CRM) is defined by the Federal Aviation Administration as, “the effective use of all available resources: human resources, hardware, and information.” The history of CRM comes from NASA research that took place in the late 1970s. NASA focused its research solely on the human error element involved in aircraft accidents with multiple crews. During this time of research, much of the focus of CRM was on the pilot/copilot relationship. It was discovered that select airline captains thought very little of their first officers. In turn, first officers felt that they could not challenge their captain when they didn’t agree with his or her actions. They felt that it was disrespectful to challenge them as captains were the boss in the cockpit. The purpose of the research at that time was to “gain an environment of equal respect, teamwork and cooperation to safely accomplish the mission of the flight.” The most recent CRM model has evolved into “teaching pilots risk management strategies, focusing on workload management, recognizing hazardous attitudes or patterns, maintaining situational awareness, and communicating effectively to operate efficiently and safely in all aspects of flight.” CRM is an important aspect to any flight training department and is critical for an airline pilot’s career.

CRM covers many different concepts including decision-making and risk management. The decision-making side of CRM covers pilots that are faced with an in-flight decision. Pilots are trained to use the knowledge and technology they have available to them when they are faced to make a decision during flight. CRM includes not only pilots but other crew members, flight attendants, ATC, weather reports, and maintenance workers. Pilots can utilize these people and tools to help them make their in-flight decision. Risk management involves preventing risks and how to manage them appropriately if they do arise. Risks include not only environmental such as weather or operational policies but pilot’s personal risks. Pilots can have personal risks such as fatigue, illness or stress that they are aware of but not always tell their crew members about. Factors such as aircraft weight and runway conditions can also influence risks. Two flight cases below highlight the importance of CRM and why proper training is crucial before the flight crew steps in the cockpit.

Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509 is a perfect case study into what tragedies can happen when there is a breakdown of CRM. The Boeing 747 was flown by a crew of 4 out of London Stansted Airport on December 22, 1999. Maintenance personnel warned the Flight Engineer that the captain’s Attitude Director Indicator (ADI, or artificial horizon) was unreliable during a roll before they boarded the aircraft. It was dark outside at the time of takeoff, so the captain was flying entirely by instruments. The captain began a sharp left turn after takeoff, which was not reflected on his inoperable ADI. The CRM breakdown in this instance was that the co-pilot’s ADI was functioning normally but he remained silent as to not challenge the captain. The Flight Engineer began yelling “Bank!” repeatedly, and an alarm rang out warning of the error, but the pilot continued his sharp turn until the left wing dragged the ground and the plane smacked the ground at high speed and 90 degrees of left bank. All 4 crew onboard perished in the cash.

Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 is another example of where CRM training is crucial. On December 8, 2005 a Boeing 737-7H4 ran off the departure end of runway 31 center just after landing at Chicago Midway Airport. The aircraft rolled through the blast pad fencing and the airport’s perimeter fence where it finally came to a stop after striking a vehicle, which killed a child that was in the vehicle. The cause of the accident was the pilots’ failure to use available reverse thrust in a timely manner to safely slow or stop the airplane after landing. This failure occurred because the pilots’ first experience and lack of familiarity with the airplane’s autobrake system distracted them from thrust reverser during the challenging landing. This case shows that not only were the pilots at fault for the accident but Southwest Airlines as a company. The company failed to train the pilots and assure that they were clear on the operating procedures for the aircraft they were flying.

Between 60-80% of aviation accidents are caused by human error, and a large portion of that are specifically caused by poor Crew Resource Management. Millions of dollars have been invested into CRM training at airlines, flight schools, and other businesses that operate aircraft. Continual CRM training that focuses on teaching pilots and aircraft crew error avoidance, early detection of errors, and minimizing consequences resulting from CRM errors generally has a positive outcome and desired behavioral change. However, it can be difficult to evaluate the impact of CRM training as it is hard to quantify the concept of accidents avoided. Thus, it was determined that more research into the long-term effects of CRM training needs to be conducted in the coming years.

Companies are wanting to dig deeper into how they can better equip and train their employees to use CRM tactics. The FAA has an Advisor Circular (AC) published specifically for crew resource management training. In addition to the certain essential that are universal to CRM, the Advisory Circular also lists effective CRM characteristics which include: CRM is a comprehensive system of applying human factors concepts to improve crew performance, CRM embraces all operational personnel, CRM can be blended in all forms of aircrew training, CRM concentrates on crewmembers’ attitudes and behaviors and their impact on safety, CRM uses the crew as a unit of training, CRM is training that requires the active participation of all crewmembers. It provides an opportunity for individuals and crews to examine their own behavior, and to make decisions on how to improve cockpit teamwork. The number one goal in aviation is safety. Where CRM characteristics are compromised or left out, there’s room for error to slip in which can lead to incidents or accidents that could cause fatalities. Companies in the aviation industry need to ensure that they are taking all of the right steps in training their crews before they are put on the aircraft with souls on board.

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Aircraft Accidents | Aviation History | Aviation Safety

America’s Largest Fly-in Communities

by Tori Williams 1. October 2018 20:00
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Last weekend my husband and I flew to an EAA chapter meeting that was held at a beautiful private grass strip called Timberhouse. We quickly discovered that this was no ordinary grass strip. Each side of the runway was flanked by houses in various stages of construction, with a couple fully built houses scattered amongst them. This beautiful place was clearly becoming more inhabited every day. The owner of the field shared that they have had lots of sale on this flying community for 15 years, but in the last couple years has interest in buying lots increased exponentially.

The idea of being able to walk outside your house and get into your airplane, no driving to the airport required, seems like a total dream. Although this may seem like something out of a Bond movie, residential airports are all over the U.S. and some of the plots of land are just as affordable as buying off-airport land for your home.

According to the website Living With Your Plane, the three states with the most residential airports are Florida (71), Texas (67), and Washington (58). Even smaller states like Illinois and Ohio have 18 and 13 residential airports, respectively. When you take into account the amount of small public-use airports each state has, it’s no wonder the U.S. has the best General Aviation environment in the world.

Today I would like to inspect some of the biggest residential airports in the U.S. to help paint a picture of what living at an airport looks like. Most of these are exclusive, gated community type locations, but that’s not to say there’s not a more affordable option in the state as well.

Spruce Creek

Spruce Creek Airpark in Port Orange, Florida (seven miles south of Daytona Beach) is the perfect example of a thriving airport living community. The 4000 ft runway is surrounded by over 1,300 houses and 700 hangars. A large majority of the residents of this gated community have the luxury of private hangars in or beside their homes that are attached to over 14 miles of paved taxiways.

Jumbolair

Another Floridian airport of note is the Jumbolair Airport in Ocala, Florida. This one is different from Spruce Creek in that it has far less houses, but the runway is nearly twice as long at 7,550 ft. This airport is typically what people imagine when they think of flying communities, because actor John Travolta was one of the first people to purchase land and build a house. Travolta was drawn to this particular airport because the length of the runway allowed him to takeoff in his personal Boeing 707.

Poplar Grove

Located near the northern border of Illinois, Poplar Grove has made quite a name for themselves as being an extremely well maintained and fun airport. They are open to the public for flight training, but also have a prestigious residential community attached to the runway. 100 of the total 140 houses in their residential community are connected via taxiway to the runways. With one large asphalt runway and two grass strips, this airport is a heaven for pilots that enjoy antique and vintage aircraft flying.

RJW Airpark

Last but not least, RJW Airpark in Baytown, Texas claims to be the largest airpark in the state. Featuring a 5111 ft asphalt runway and a 3532 grass runway, this classic airpark has something for every pilot. The houses on this particular Airpark are in a realm of their own, because of course everything is bigger in Texas!

I hope this article has opened your eyes to some of the incredible flying communities that are out there! If you search online you might be surprised by how many are in your state. More flying communities are being created every year, so this type of lifestyle is also becoming more obtainable. If your dream is to someday taxi your plane away from your home towards a runway, never give up because that dream could very well become a reality.

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Aviation History | Tori Williams

59th Annual National Waco Club Reunion

by Tori Williams 1. July 2018 11:48
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Last weekend my husband and I had the opportunity to fly my father-in-law’s 1931 Waco ASO into Mount Vernon, Ohio for the National Waco Club’s 59th annual reunion. Despite some dreadful weather in the area, 13 incredible Wacos were able to fly in to Wynkoop Airfield for at least part the four-day long event. This was my second year attending and it was just as thrilling as my first!

Part 1: The Pilgrimage

Getting ourselves to the fly-in turned out to be more difficult than anticipated. We were planning to head out after work Friday, but the ceilings were too low so we had to wait until Saturday. Ideally the clouds would have moved overnight so we could have an early start but we woke to an 800 foot ceiling. This was one of those incredibly annoying times for VFR pilots when our airport seemed to be the only one reporting IFR in our area. A few miles in any direction, and it was clear, open skies. We are officially blaming the large lake we live beside but sometimes I think things like this happen so we pilots stay humble.

After waiting several hours and listening to the AWOS practically on repeat, it was finally reporting broken ceilings and VFR so we made a break for it. This was around 2pm but that didn’t stop us. Even if we would only be there for the tail end of the festivities we were determined to make it. You don’t miss out on an opportunity like this. It’s practically unethical.

The last hurdle between us and a fun weekend of biplanes was the outside air temperature. Following several excruciatingly warm days we had a cold front blow through just in time for our flight. The temperature on the ground was 63 degrees Fahrenheit. Not terrible but cold for a day in late June. However, we must remember that atmosphere thing where temperature decreases by (approximately) 3.5 degrees F per 1,000 feet of altitude. By the time we got to cruising around 3,000 feet it was 10 degrees colder. Coupled with the inherent windiness of an open cockpit airplane, it was COLD. Thankfully this realization came to us before we left the house, and we both had on our sweaters, scarves, and mittens. In June!

The flight itself was relatively uneventful, and we each spent an hour at the controls. We don’t have modern luxuries of autopilot (or really even a solid elevator trim) so it can be tiring to fly after a while. Dan still says he married me because he needed an autopilot for long trips in the Waco. Har har. Thankfully, we had a tailwind that gave us a ground speed of 120 knots, almost 30 knots faster than our regular cruising speed. We were booking it!

Part 2: The Festivities

The atmosphere provided by the airfield itself is one of the best things about this fly-in. Wynkoop Field is well-maintained grass strip with two runways oriented in a V-shape. There is no fence or control tower, but there are runway lights and a few hangars. Grass strips always make me feel nostalgic for a period of aviation history that I never experienced firsthand: the barnstorming days. How fitting that these 1930s and 1940s aircraft have their reunion at such a place.

I overheard the owner of another Waco put it into words I will now attempt to paraphrase: “If you find another grass airport where you can park your car and walk right up to so many historic aircraft, please give me a call. I have not found anything else like it in my life.” It’s so true!

Despite our late arrival, there were still official (and unofficial) Reunion activities to partake in. My husband loves giving rides, so he was back in the air with a passenger before I even realized it. Evidently the weather had been bad for most of the day, but the sun came out right as we landed. Other Waco pilots began starting their engines to take advantage of the last few hours of daylight. It’s always fun to see them taking off one after another. My father-in-law graciously invited me to fly with him in his Cabin Waco, so soon we were airborne as well.

I can only imagine what the townsfolk in Mount Vernon think of this whole ordeal. Suddenly for a few days every summer biplanes start flying around everywhere. I spoke with a few locals who said they aren’t always sure when the biplanes are coming, but they see them from town and know they’re finally there! A local photographer named Matt Plahtinsky visited during the day and took some breathtaking photos of some of the planes which can be found on his Facebook Page.

After my husband gave who knows how many rides, it was finally time for the banquet and auction. I’m a big foodie, and I have to give props to the catering company for an excellent dinner. Roast beef, chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese.. my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Following that we had a live auction with some great items to raise money for future National Waco Club events. We had great fellowship with our Waco friends from years past, then drove to the hotel after it was too dark for any more flying.

Part 3: It’s Over Already?

Less than 24 hours after we left Indiana, we were loading up the Waco to head back. I couldn’t believe it. We waited all year for this event and it was over before we knew it. That’s the nature of these things, I suppose. We were just thrilled to have reunited with our Waco friends at Wynkoop for any amount of time. Unfortunately our tailwind heading over turned into a nasty headwind coming back, and it took over 3 hours enroute. Plenty of time to reminisce on our short weekend trip and discuss plans for next year.

Epilogue: Come Next Year!

This year was great, but next year is going to be the 60th Anniversary of the National Waco Club Reunion. It was announced at dinner that the goal is to have 60 Wacos fly in for that one. 60! That number seemed unreal to me but I was told that for the 50th Reunion they had 50 Wacos! Totally doable, then!

This event clearly had a big impact on me and I have since made it my mission to invite everyone to the Reunion next year. Check out the website for the National Waco Club for more information on next year’s event, and I certainly hope you can make it!

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Aviation History | Tori Williams

Tales from the Red River Valley

by Lydia Wiff 15. March 2017 08:00
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At UND Aerospace, the sense of community and family is strong among the current students and faculty, but even more so among the alumni.  My first opportunity to connect with my interviewee was through my work with the UND Air Race Classic Team when Mr. Leppke sent me a brief message relating his time in the UND Flying Club which preceded the School of Aerospace Sciences.  I have been wanting to share Mr. Leppke’s story for some time, and I was excited when he and I could exchange emails and read his tales from the Red River Valley. 

Bob Leppke, a UND alumnus, studied in John Odegard’s first aviation class.  Retired, he lives in Seattle where he enjoys his grandkids and the area’s aviation culture. 

Lydia Wiff (LW): Tell me how you ended up at UND.

Bob Leppke (BL): I grew up on a farm southwest of Carrington, North Dakota.  Prior to UND, my education included 8 years in a one room school house close to our family farm and 4 years at the Carrington High School.  In high school, I became interested in business.  Through my older brother, a UND graduate, I became familiar with the university. Because of the strong reputation of the College of Business, I decided to attend UND. 

LW: Tell me about your degree program at UND and how you got involved in the Flying Club (precursor to UND Aerospace).

BL: I selected the Business Administration BS/BA degree program in the College of Business.  I enjoyed the business curriculum especially, the courses on management.   The four years went by quickly.   Not only did I gain an education, I gained a wife two years into my college career.

In the spring of my senior year, I needed an elective to fill out the semester. I wanted something different, so I ended up enrolling in the Introduction to Aviation course.  I did not have any aviation experience but always loved airplanes. As a kid, I loved to build model airplanes and watch a neighbor fly his Piper Cub over our farm. 

It was the first time the course was offered at UND.  The class included 11 other students and was held in one of the basement rooms in the UND Law building.  I can still remember the first day.    John Odegard, our instructor gave us a summary of what he would cover and what materials we would need.  The goal of the class was to prepare students for the FAA private pilot written exam.  I did not know where it would lead, but I was thrilled with the course material and was especially impressed with John Odegard’s instruction.  I studied harder for this class than the business-related classes and it paid dividends because I ended up with an “A” and passed the FAA exam.  

Since I had to stay in Grand Forks for the summer, I talked to John about flight lessons.  I was concerned whether I would have time to complete the requirements for the PPL before I needed to leave Grand Forks for the military.  The Vietnam War was in progress and I ended up being drafted after graduation.  John laid out a schedule that convinced me I could complete the training in time.  I joined the UND Flying Club and scheduled lessons with one of the club instructors.  There is no doubt that John’s enthusiasm had rubbed off.  I could not wait to get started.  At that time the club had a Cessna 150, Piper Cherokee 180 and a Mooney.   

LW: Tell me about your flight instructors.

BL: My first flight instructor was Ann Ross Anderson. I met her at the UND Flying Club hanger and she took me on my first flight using the Flying Club’s 1967 Cessna 150 (6232S).    John Odegard’s course had already planted the desire to fly, but after the first flight, I was really hooked.  I reached around 10 hours of dual instruction when Ann told me she accepted a job with the FAA in Grand Rapids, MI and was leaving Grand Forks. During my time with Ann, I learned that she served our country during WWII as a member of the WASP’s (WWII   1942-1944 Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots).  She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.  I was ready for my first solo but Ann felt it would be best to get started with another instructor before I soloed. 

My second flight instructor was Col. Lincoln L. White.  He was serving in the US Air Force at the Grand Forks Airbase as a B-52 navigator.  He told me many stories about his love for flying and his time in the military. Because of his military background, he expected perfection in my flying, navigation and knowledge of the airplane.  I looked forward to each lesson with him.   Thankfully, he was able to stay in Grand Forks until I was ready for the PPL check ride. 

Five days before I was scheduled to begin my US Army training at FT Lewis, WA, Col. White gave me my last review and scheduled me for the PPL check ride with Elton Lee Barnum.  After an hour and half in the air, Mr. Barnum shook my hand and said I passed.  I was thrilled and could not wait to tell my wife who was waiting in the Club hanger.   I took my wife for a short flight and then called John Odegard to thank him for all the instruction and encouragement.   I could not think of a better way to cap off my time at UND.  That night we left Grand Forks. I did not know at the time that two years later I would be back. 

LW: Tell me about your experience interacting with John Odegard.

BL: During the spring semester Introduction to Aviation class, my contact with John was primarily in the classroom.  But something was different.   His passion for aviation was rubbing off.  He made learning fun and brought a high level of enthusiasm to the class.  

After I found out that I had passed the FAA written exam, I went to his office to talk to him.  He congratulated me and asked me questions about the exam.  During the discussion, he expressed a disappointment that a number of students had failed the exam.  He told me that he felt he had not included some topics in his instruction.  He did not blame the students.  It was after I completed the course that I started to have more contact with John. His help in getting me started on flight lessons was greatly appreciated.  The relationship changed from instructor to mentor.    

During my second year in the Army, I found out that I could get discharged two months early if I went back to college.  The timing was excellent because I could leave the Army with just enough time to start a fall semester.  I had been in contact with John Odegard during my time in the Army and learned that he was able to implement curriculum for a full aviation administration major within the School of Business.  After some back and forth mail and encouragement from John I decided to return to UND. 

I left Ft Lewis, Washington August 15th, my last day in the Army and returned to Grand Forks.   It was great to see the expansion of the aviation program.  John had also managed to obtain two new Cessna 150’s. I enrolled in 24 semester hours of junior and senior-level aviation courses over the 70-71 school year.  The classes included Advanced Aeronautics, Air Transportation, Airline Operations, Airport Management, Advanced Instrument, Intro to Air Traffic Control, and Aerospace Law.  I also enrolled in one Advanced Aero Lab and flew 44 hours toward a commercial license.  Classes were held in the rooms on the first floor of Gamble Hall.   John’s office was located next to the classrooms. 

It was like coming back home.   I ended up have both John Odegard and Mr. Barnum for instructors.  John taught the airport management class.   I remember two projects that I worked on, one was picking an airport and writing a paper about it.  I picked the new Houston International Airport in TX.  I also built a model of one of the terminal buildings.  The second study was on airport snow removal.   One milestone during the class was John taking us on a tour of the Winnipeg Airport in the UND DC 3.  (No Passports, customs.  Can you imagine what it would take today) It was my first and only ride in a DC3.   Mr.  Barnum taught the Advanced Instrument course.  There were new instructors teaching the other courses.   One instructor would fly to Grand Forks from North Central Airlines in Minneapolis.   He would later open the door for me to interview with North Central Airlines.

Things had changed at the airport.  UND had a small trailer used as a pilot lounge on the west side of the large Quonset hanger. The airport was now controlled by a tower.   The Cessna 150s were tied up outside the Quonset. The DC 3 was parked inside the Quonset.  They also had a maintenance shop in the Quonset and had one mechanic on staff.

As I was getting close to the end of the 1971 spring semester I started looking for a job in aviation.  John helped by creating a booklet with information about those of us that were completing the major.   He also helped arrange an interview at Republic Airline in Minneapolis.   

Through the years I have always been grateful for John’s impact on my life during those years at UND.   John’s approach to learning and pursuit of excellence was a major help during my career in software engineering and IT.   The fact that John is the only classroom instructor that I remember from my college days tells a lot. 

LW: Where did you end up after graduation and where are you at today?

BL: After adding the Aviation Administration major to my degree I left Grand Forks to look for a position in Airline management.  It was bad timing because the airline industry was in one of its deepest recessions.   I needed work so I fell back on my business major and ended up with an IT management position in Chicago.   I stayed in Chicago for 10 years and then moved to Boston where I managed a software engineering group. After 14 years in Boston I moved to Seattle to work as an IT Project Management Professional until I retired in 2010.

LW: What are some important lessons you learned at UND?

BL: One of the lessons I learned while at UND was to set goals and be persistent in pursuing the goals.  It is interesting that after all the business courses it was the aviation training that added the most valuable aspects in pursuing a successful career.  Being a pilot there is structure and discipline that you learn that is so important in life.   It also is a great confidence builder.   Every time I was faced with something difficult in my career, I would think back to my aviation days at UND.

LW: What have been some of your networking experiences with UND alumni? 

BL: In my business travels, I started to run into aviation graduates and loved to share those early days of aviation at UND with them.  I have enjoyed the Alumni get-together in Seattle where I have met a number of UND aviation graduates.  Through my 40 year career in IT and Software Engineering, I told countless people about the program.  My co-workers in Chicago, Boston, and Seattle all heard about UND Aviation.  If I ran into anyone looking for a career in aviation, I always directed them to UND.

I noticed as the years went by that more people, especially those connected to aviation, knew about the aviation program at UND.   In 2010 I got to know the CEO of Alaska Airlines.   He talked about hiring from UND.   I also have found out that some of the graduates from the air traffic control program are now working in Seattle.

LW What is your advice to UND students and recent graduates?

BL: Do not be afraid to take risks.  Try new things.   All your experiences are building blocks in your career path.  With hard work, you will find success in all that you do.

LW: What’s one thing you’ll always take away from UND?

BL: I have always been proud to have my degree from a university in my home state.  It was a solid stepping stone to start a career.  The aviation training was a plus in that it gave me confidence that I could do new things.  I accomplished more than I could have imagined than when I started college at UND.  Most of this I owe to the aviation training and my relationship with John Odegard.

I have always enjoyed the statement from Leonardo da Vinci.  I have displayed it in my offices over the past 45 years.  Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”   Leonardo da Vinci

 

 Image courtesy of Bob Leppke.

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Aviation History | GlobalAir.com | Lydia Wiff | UND

A Few of My Favorite Warbirds

by Lydia Wiff 30. April 2016 08:00
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In the distance you hear a deep hum – as it gets closer, you see a gleaming aircraft appear on the horizon and suddenly you break out in goose bumps as a gleaming vintage World War II (WWII) aircraft passes over you at top speed.  Maybe I’m the only one that gets giddy when I hear those old war birds, or maybe there are more out there that can barely contain themselves when old aircraft come to life once again.  Today, I’ll list my three favorite warbirds from WWII along with a little history about their important role in our history.


#1: The B-29 Superfortress

Quite possibly the hardest-working aircraft ever designed in WWII, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress was designed in response to a request from the United States Army Air Corps for a pressurized, long-range, bomber aircraft.  Clocking out at over 350 miles per hour (mph) in cruise, the Superfortress could attain altitudes at over 30,000 feet with a wingspan at over 140 feet long. 

The Superfortress also came equipped with four, remotely controlled turrets – the General Electric Central Fire Control System.  Among the first of its kind, these turrets were controlled via analog electrical instrumentation.  Additionally, the B-29 was the first fully-pressurized bomber aircraft providing safety and comfort for its crew.  Almost 4,000 of these “super bombers” were built by Boeing to aid in the war effort.

Today, only 22 B-29s are in existence with one still flying which you may have seen at places such as AirVenture in Oshokosh, WI – this B-29 is affectionately dubbed “Fifi”.


#2: The P-51 Mustang

Next up we have the P-51 Mustang.  This gleaming gem was used as a long-range, single-pilot fighter, and a fighter-bomber during WWII, the Korean War and various other conflicts.  Designed in 1940 by the American company, North American Aviation, it was in response to the licensing requirements of the British Purchasing Commission. 

First flown operationally by the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Mustang was used as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and a fighter-bomber.  Due to the Rolls-Royce engine in the P-51B/C model, the fighter could perform at altitudes above 15,000 feet allowing it to match or better the Luftwaffe’s fighters – I wonder what they did for oxygen up there?


Not limited to just Europe, the P-51 was flown in many conflicts including the North African, Mediterranean, and Italian theaters and was used in the Pacific War against the Japanese.  During the Korean War, it was used as the main fighter aircraft until jet aircraft took over that role with the advent of new technology.  Despite the new technology, the Mustang was used until the early 1980s in conflicts. 

Now, these amazing fighters are owned by private collectors, on display in museums, and still flown in many airshows all over the country.  It just goes to show one that after even 50 years, this amazing aircraft still exists – what a testament to American engineering!


#3: The B-25 Mitchell

Dubbed the “Mitchell Bomber” after Major General William “Billy” Mitchell, the B-25 is another bomber that served in every theater of WWII in addition to remaining in service which spanned four decades.  With nearly 10,000 of these twin-engine bombers built, like many other aircraft, this design came at the request of the Army Air Corps.

Going up against other aircraft manufacturers such as Douglas, North American Aircraft (NAA) went on to design the most military aircraft in United States history.  NAA was also the only company to simultaneously produced bombers, fighters, and trainers.  Among some of the most notable missions the Mitchell flew was the “Doolittle Raid” in 1942 led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle on the mainland of Japan four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Over the years, the B-25 had a few variants in design that included equipment for de-icing, anti-icing, and gunship modifications making it a versatile war-time platform.  The B-25 proved to be a formidable airframe and was used around the world for war-time activities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands. 


And Your Favorites Are?

While many of these aircraft were designed to subdue our enemies overseas, I can’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of American aerospace engineers and the sheer beauty of these aircraft.  My favorite part about being in Oshkosh for AirVenture is watching the reenactment of the Doolittle Raid and the tributes to aerospace egineers, not to mention all the privately restored warbirds on display.

So, what’s your favorite warbird?

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Aviation History | Lydia Wiff | Vintage Aircraft



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