2016 has been a banner year for warbirds, with many significant events and first flights taking place. We at WarbirdsNews have endeavored to keep our readers informed of as many developments as possible, with exclusive reports of major milestones in the warbird and aviation museum community. Although we couldn’t cover everything… it just isn’t possible on our shoestring budget…  it has been a remarkable year of growth for us here too. We are always looking for new leads, as well as writers/photographers who are able to provide coverage. With your help we can have an even better 2017, and be sure not to miss any important first flight this year!

So here is a small review of highlights from 2016… We hope you enjoy looking through them again, and want to thank all of our contributors from this year. Thanks to Matt Abrams, Phil Buckley, Stephen Chapis, Greg Morehead, Matthew McDaniel, Ramon Purcell, Luigino Caliaro, Matt Savage, Scott Plummer, Joe A. Kunzler, Kedar Karmarkar, Jay Beckman and Steve Jantz. Nothing would have been possible without their valiant efforts!

January 2016

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk “Bonnie Kaye”

Photo by Matt Abrams

Photo by Matt Abrams

The world gained another airworthy Curtiss Kittyhawk when P-40N 42-105120 took to the skies on the morning of Monday, January 11th following a ten year restoration with Chris and Gail Kirchner’s C&G Air at the Leeward Air Ranch in Ocala, Florida. The aircraft is a veteran of the Aleutians campaign, although the restoration bares the famous skull motif of the 80th Fighter Group’s Burma Banshees on the port side. Captain Ernest Hickox flew her along the Aleutian archipelago with the 343rd Fighter Group in Alaska. Hickox named his P-40 the Bonnie Kaye after his wife and daughter back home, repainting the starboard cowling in their honor. Sadly, both Hickox and Bonnie Kaye’s luck ran out on July 25th, 1945, when they crashed on Unalaska Island while escorting an amphibian on a search and rescue mission for another missing pilot. Hickox received a posthumous Soldier’s Medal for his bravery and sacrifice in a non-combat endeavor. The wrecked Kittyhawk remained in-situ for the next five decades, before Ken Hake salvaged her remains in the early 1990s. Read more…

February 2016

Combat Veteran F-100D Super Sabre Restoration

F-100D Super Sabre 56-2995 is a survivor of several hundred combat missions over Viet Nam, and is now enjoying a serious restoration effort which will see it returned to its former glory at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Georgia. (photo via Wikipedia)

F-100D Super Sabre 56-2995 is a survivor of several hundred combat missions over Viet Nam, and is now enjoying a serious restoration effort which will see it returned to its former glory at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Georgia. (photo via Wikipedia)

For the past five years, a dedicated restoration team at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Georgia has been working their magic on a North American F-100D Super Sabre. The aircraft, USAF serial 56-2995, was in terrible shape when it first arrived, having sat for decades atop a pole at Otis Air Force Base in the moist, salt-laden air of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Most museums would probably never have taken on the project, being that corrosion was so pervasive in the airframe, but this was no ordinary Super Sabre, this was a combat veteran of the Viet Nam War, with several hundred missions over enemy territory to her credit. Moreover, her pilot on a staggering 180 of those wartime sorties is one of the two men currently working on the aircraft today. Now a retired Major General in the US Air Force, Rick Goddard is also the reason why the aircraft came to Warner Robins in the first place. Read more…

March 2016

Columbine II – First Flight – And She’s On Her Way HOME!!!

Columbine II taking off on her first post-restoration flight on Saturday. She is expected in Bridgewater, Virginia sometime on Tuesday, March 23rd. (photo with permission from Boneyardsafari.com)

Columbine II taking off on her first post-restoration flight on Saturday. She is expected in Bridgewater, Virginia sometime on Tuesday, March 23rd. (photo with permission from Boneyardsafari.com)

In the stifling, mid-day heat of Saturday, March 19th the hard-earned dreams of a year-long effort saw the first post-restoration flight of the Lockheed VC-121A  Constellation known as Columbine II. As the graceful, silver bird rumbled into the sky, a huge cheer rose up from the small crowd gathered to watch at the Marana Air Park in Marana, Arizona. The Connie was in the air for roughly an hour on that first flight as the crew evaluated her performance. A Beech King Air  from Dynamic Aviation (Columbine II’s owner) flew in chase nearby. Read more…

April 2016

TBM Gathering – 90 Tons of Turkeys Invade Illinois

A glorious sunset formation shot of three TBMs. TBM-3E Bu.85650 is in the foreground with TBM-3E Bu. 85882 'Ida Red' in the middle and Brad Deckert's TBM-3E Bu.85828 in the background. (photo by Greg Morehead, courtesy Warbird Digest magazine)

A glorious sunset formation shot of three TBMs. TBM-3E Bu.85650 is in the foreground with TBM-3E Bu. 85882 ‘Ida Red’ in the middle and Brad Deckert’s TBM-3E Bu.85828 in the background. (photo by Greg Morehead, courtesy Warbird Digest magazine)

The event was widely acclaimed as a roaring success, and we had our own Matthew McDaniel on the ground to report on the proceedings. We are also able to share some images from the event taken by the masterful photographer Greg Morehead and provided to WarbirdsNews compliments of the world-class Warbird Digest magazine. We greatly appreciate their support, and can’t thank chief editor Greg Morehead enough for his generosity.  There’s also a great video from AirshowStuff.com as well, and we must offer our thanks to their team for providing us with live coverage of the event on our Facebook feed as well. We hope you enjoy reading. Read more…

May 2016

World’s Last Surviving PBJ-1 Mitchell Flies Again!

Photo by Scott PLummer of Airshowvid.com

Photo by Scott PLummer of Airshowvid.com

On Sunday May 15th, at a little before 2pm local time, the world’s last known surviving PBJ-1J Mitchell took to the skies over Camarillo, California again, following a decades-long, down-to-the-last-rivet restoration with the Southern California (SoCal) Wing of the Commemorative Air Force’s. As is typical on such test flights, a chase plane shadowed the Mitchell for much of the hour-long flight, sitting off her wingtip right up until the old bomber alit once more on terra firms. The flight seemed to go smoothly, and many supporters were on hand to see her soar again and cheer her home. A local tv news channel even covered the proceedings as well. Read more…

June 2016

National Museum USAF Fourth Building Now Open

 The fourth building grand opening ceremony for the new 224,000 square foot building was held on June 7, 2016 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (From left to right) Congressman Mike Turner, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. Chairman, Board of Trustees, Philip L. Soucy, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and the Director of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Lt. Gen.(Ret.) Jack Hudson. (U.S Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The fourth building grand opening ceremony for the new 224,000 square foot building was held on June 7, 2016 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (From left to right) Congressman Mike Turner, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. Chairman, Board of Trustees, Philip L. Soucy, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and the Director of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Lt. Gen.(Ret.) Jack Hudson. (U.S Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Visitors from around the world were able once again walk in the footsteps of presidents, astronauts, test pilots and those brought out of captivity as the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force opened its fourth building on June 8.The new $40.8 million, 224,000 square foot fourth building, which was privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation, will house four galleries – Presidential, Research and Development, Space and Global Reach, along with three science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Learning Nodes. Read more…

Museum of Flight Unveils New Aviation Pavilion

The Museum of Flight_New Pavillion

The Museum of Flight opened its new, 3-acre Aviation Pavilion in June. The 9-story high, roofed outdoor gallery doubled the Museum’s exhibit space with the biggest expansion in its 51-year history, establishing a new Seattle landmark and one of the world’s grand displays of historic aircraft.  Read more…

July 2017

Doc Flies!!!

B-29 Doc_ First flight
On July 17, 2016 the B-29 Super Fortress known as ‘Doc’ made her first post-restoration flight in Wichita, Kansas. Following more than two decades of adventure and hard graft since Tony Mazzolini discovered her at the China Lake Proving Grounds in 1987, the world now has two flying B-29’s! Under the guidance of her crew, the silvery Super Fortress taxied out to the 12,000′ long runway at McConnell Air Force Base. The flight engineer ran her engines up to takeoff power, flexing her muscles to test their strength. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, but during the pre-flight checks, the crew discovered that the bomb bay doors would not seal properly, so they taxied her back to the start point to check on the problem. Read more…

August 2016

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016 Photos, Final Facts and Figures

Nothing compared to the Coulson Aviation's magnificent Martin Mars for shear spectacle though... It was a glorious thing to see in flight... (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

Nothing compared to the Coulson Aviation’s magnificent Martin Mars for shear spectacle though… It was a glorious thing to see in flight… (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

As many of you will have guessed from watching our Facebook page, most of us here at WarbirdsNews were at Oshkosh for AirVenture 2016. It was an extraordinary year, with some exceptional performances and rare attendees. We got to see the Martin Mars strut her stuff both on and off the water. WWII veterans like Doolittle Raider Col. Dick Cole, Tuskegee Airman Col. George Hardy and several former WASPs, including Dawn Seymour. The Commemorative Air Force brought their full Tora! Tora! Tora! display for a spectacular night show for the very first time. We saw a U-2 Dragon Lady make a flypast. The world famous Royal Canadian Air Force  Snowbirds aerial demonstration team performed each day following their Wednesday arrival. And what’s more, we had an F-4 Phantom II two-ship for probably the last time ever at a major public air show in the USA. We thought you might like a run-down of the numbers from EAA Chairman, Jack Pelton… along with some photography highlights by our chief editor, Richard Mallory Allnutt. Read more…

September 2016

Commemorating The Flying Tigers

The majestic formation of the five P-40s that participated in the 2016 Atlanta Warbird Weekend. ( Photo by Kedar Karmakar)

The majestic formation of the five P-40s that participated in the 2016 Atlanta Warbird Weekend. ( Photo by Kedar Karmarkar)

This past September, the story of The Flying Tigers came to life for a new generation in Atlanta, Georgia, courtesy of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing.Prior to United States’ entry into the Second World War, 300 former American military pilots and ground crew personnel traveled to China to join the America Volunteer Group (AVG). Under the leadership of Claire Chennault, they amassed a remarkable combat record against Imperial Japan by destroying over 290 aircraft before the group was disbanded in April 1942. Read more…

October 2016

XP-82 Gains Her Outer Wings and Cranks Her Merlins!

Photo by Louisa Barendse

Photo by Louisa Barendse

Following the momentous news over last weekend concerning the XP-82 Twin Mustang’s first engine runs in Douglas, Georgia, we wanted to know a few more details. A lot of major developments have been occurring with this incredible project in recent weeks, what with the move to a new, much larger hangar, attaching the outer wing panels for the first time, and of course the engine runs. We contacted Tom Reilly to learn more about what his restoration team has been up to, and thought our readers would be as eager as we were to see his responses… so here they are! Read more…

November 2016

Classic Fighters of America’s TA-4J Skyhawk Airborne!

Doug Matthews making his second flight in his newly upgraded TA-4J on November 10th. (Photo by Adam Glowaski - Box 5 Media)

Doug Matthews making his second flight in his newly upgraded TA-4J on November 10th. (Photo by Adam Glowaski – Box 5 Media)

In November Doug Matthews  successfully flew his recently refurbished Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk for the first time! We have been following this exciting project for several months, and have posted a few earlier pieces on the project, and its history. The aircraft, Bu.156925, now wears the markings of VF-126, but had originally served in VT-86. Read more…

December 2016

Pharewell to the Phantom

A QF-4 Phantom flies over Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., during the Phinal Phlight event on Dec. 21, 2016. This event marks the end of the aircraft’s 53 years of service to the Air Force. (Photo by Jay Beckman / Crosswind Images)

A QF-4 Phantom flies over Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., during the Phinal Phlight event on Dec. 21, 2016. This event marks the end of the aircraft’s 53 years of service to the Air Force. (Photo by Jay Beckman / Crosswind Images)

The US Military bid a final farewell to the mighty McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II on December 21st, 2016, as the last active examples were paid off in a ceremony and brief flying display under heavily overcast skies at Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, New Mexico. While the Phantom II officially retired from US front line squadron use in 1996, more than 300 examples underwent conversion into QF-4 full-scale aerial target drones over the past 30 years. These aircraft performed an essential service, both in testing the effectiveness of munitions in realistic situations, as well as providing training for fighter pilots in the art of air-to-air combat against live targets. The last QF-4 conversion, formerly RF-4C 68-0599, rolled off the modifications line at AMARG in Tucson, Arizona during April, 2013. The QF-16 will take over where the QF-4 left off. Read more…

Most Popular Article in 2016

POOR LITTLE LAMBS – The Corsairs of Baa Baa Blacksheep

Black Sheep forming up for filming during the show. (photo via Stephen Chapis)

Black Sheep forming up for filming during the show. (photo via Stephen Chapis)

Forty years ago, on September 23rd, 1976, the famed TV-series Baa Baa Black Sheep first aired on television in the United States. It was a seminal moment for many of us who follow vintage military aviation today, especially if we were kids at the time. Here to tell a little of the story about the making of that show, and the aircraft involved is Stephen Chapis, revisiting an article he originally wrote some years ago for Warbird Digest. We at WarbirdsNews thank him, and all of the other contributors who made this piece possible! Read more…

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