Friday pictures: F-86 Sabre

I seem to come back to the Sabre again and again – but how can I not? Its classic design, its stirling combat record, its place in a truly impressive lineage (P-51, F-86, F-100, F-107), and the fact that it flew in an era when planes wore flashy markings all combine to great effect.

The above shot, taken by Flickr user gunfighter157, shows one of the 655 Canadair-built North American F-86 Sabre VI . Curiously, although it wears USAF serial number 47-1461, that serial number was in fact assigned to a Republic F-84C Thunderjet. Web research turns up some information on its heritage, including:

Mk VI [CL-13B] (1956) 352 SAAF, N38301 (1983/3), stored dismantled and uncovered (by 1982-1990), to Michael Dorn (1996/1/30), to Frank Borman (1999/11), delivered to Chino CA for restoration (1999/11), N186FS (2000/1/3), to Edward H. Shipley (2001). This Sabre was previously owned by actor Michael Dorn and later former astronaut Frank Borman.  It is marked with the tail number “71461” but this does not match any USAF F-86 serial numbers.

Also this:

The paint scheme of this F-86 is a combination of two F-86 liveries which Frank Borman flew at the 3595th Combat Crew Training Wing and the USAF Fighter Weapons School.

From design in Ohio, to construction in Montreal, to service in South Africa, to California – this plane has seen a lot of the world over its 53 years, but it looks as vital as ever. As always, my thanks to those who maintain these aircraft and to those who photograph them so well.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.


Friday pictures: Douglas then and now

For quite a few years now, the Air Force has included so called Legacy Flights as a part of many airshows. These fly bys match one or more modern aircraft with one or more Warbirds, usually making for an intriguing combination. For the most part, the planes involved are fighters – P-51s, P-47s, P-39s, and P-38s are all understandably popular attractions.

This past May, there was a different pairing which I greatly admire. A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, which is made in the Douglas plant in Long Beach, California, appeared at Altus AFB in Oklahoma, flying in formation with a Douglas C-47 Skytrain. (It seems this same paring appeared in October in Texas, too.) To see these two Douglas designs next to one another, separated by decades of history and technological development, drives home not only the changes and advances aviation has heralded in such a short time, but also the difficulties that were overcome in the past when a C-47 was heavy airlift. (General Eisenhower once attributed the Allies’ vistory in World War II to the C-47, the jeep, the bazooka, and the bomb). Amazingly, the C-17 is not our biggest airlifter, but their shared lineage makes this pairing exceptionally appropriate. I am including a few shots here, and more can be found here. All photographs attributed by link to their source.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: Big Bossman

Today’s installment of avaition pictures come from shots taken by Flickr user EverydayTuesday this past September at the Reno Air Races. The plane in question is a Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat named Big Bossman. Manufactured in 1946, bureau number 80503 led a varied life – dismantled in a California hut in 1973, registered to a Houston museum in 1988, rebuilt in Colorado, then off to Galveston in the nineties. Since 2003, this plane has been in the race cicruit. The Tigercats are very large, twin-engined planes, and I chose this week’s pictures since they show to such dramatic effect what a speedy, imposing plane this is. As always, my thanks to the photographer. Please follow the links to see larger versions, as well as additional pictures taken by EverydayTuesday.



If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: Hurricane overhead

I apologize for this being late – Halloween and an awful cold both clobbered my day yesterday.

Twice in the last few months, I have turned to the Supermarine Spitfire as a subject for these posts (here and here). Today I am picking the Spitfire’s comrade in the Battle of Britain, the Hawker Hurricane. For more on both the 14,000 Hurricanes and on the Battle of Britain, I will send you to Wikipedia. For this week, I am simply going to thank rob 68 for this wonderful, timeless shot of a Hurricane flying overhead.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: Spitting fire

I have highlighted a Spitfire in a previous Friday pictures installment, and truth be told that design is such a beauty I could run Spitfires every Friday, despite my American bias. Still, such a lack of variety would be dull. Also, I have always chosen pictures of airborne aircraft prior to this week. What I seek in many of these pictures is a glimpse of the grace, the movement, the vitality of flight.

Curiously enough, this week that quality is found on the ground. In an image taken by an Irish gentleman, final gather, we see a split-second captured for our examination. The flames in the exhaust of a Spitfire’s Rolls Royce Merlin speak to the plane’s power, and are ephemeral. In this shot, we see them frozen for our contemplation.

I think it is magnificent that a seventy-year old machine can look this alive. My thanks to final gather for his picture.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

Friday pictures: Hornet nears Mach

Aircraft performing at airshows in America do not, as a rule, break the speed of sound. I assume this is an FAA rule, and I see the value of it, but all the same I would love to attend a show where such a restriction were not in place.

Planes can still get close to Mach (for an explanation of that term, see here), and they do that all the time. If the air is humid enough, the rapid changes in air pressure lead to the creation of very small clouds. The location of these clouds correlates with areas of maximum cross sectional area, and ties in very closely with Frank Whittle’s are-rule theory that still shapes high-performance aircraft to this day. For more discussion, read this.

If all that theory bores you, then how’s this – I will stop yammering and move straight to Flickr user nelnov‘s picture of a Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet. Taken at Scott AFB on September 20, 2008, this is a terrific capture of a spectacular phenomenon.

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured here.

[Update: I try not to do this, but I am compelled to add a shot to this post. Wow!]

Friday pictures: South African Lightnings

Earlier this month, Douglas Barrie wrote a post on Ares, my favorite blog these days, about the English Electric Lightning receiving an Engineering Heritage Award (PDF) by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. As an insular American plane buff, I gave far too little time thinking about the Lightning. Barrie makes the claim, which may be true and may not be true, that the Lightning was “epitome of the single-role aircraft.” Surely the Lockheed Blackbirds vie for such a title, but I see his point. English Electric built 339 of these planes, all with their unique over-under engine layout. A decent summary of Lightning information is on Wikipedia, but there are many, many web sites devoted to this plane, which clearly has a very loyal group of enthusiasts preserving its memories. (As an aside, as an example of insular buffs, the press release for the above award refers to the F-35 Lightning II as the namesake of the English Electric craft, when everyone knows the Lockheed plane is named after its forebear the P-38. Silly Brits.)

Way down in South Africa,  a recent airshow saw two flying Lightnings performing, and I am sure they put on an amazing show. I only know about it through the wonder of Flickr’s myriad photographers, and this week saw a wonderful series of pictures come appear. Marked with sponsorship decals for Vodacom Business, these planes look simply fabulous, and my hat is off to all the sponsors who have put them in the air. A certain amount of googling suggests that the return to flight was in 2004, but I cannot pin that down for sure. No matter – Friday pictures are about aeronautic eye candy, so with no further ado, and thanks to silver~halide, here are this week’s shots (shots below are thumbnails; please follow the link to the photographer to see larger images).

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured her