Flying machines and more (The 100th Weekly Grist post)

aerobatic planes

These hot-rod “RV” aerobatic planes have high powered engines and are handled by highly skilled pilots. They are home-made from kits for the most part. These aircraft are part of the Falcon Flight aerobatics team from Texas/

 Restored Howard DGA 15-P airplane

Click on the Howard airplane to see a larger picture and learn more

For a lot of us, the sound of an aircraft engine is a hair-raising thrill. Not the jets, the reciprocal engines —  the ones with pistons. The ones that cough, sputter, and smoke when they crank up, then roar to life with earth-shaking presence. The ones that convert gasoline to excitement. See how this story started and take a look at a magnificently restored Howard DG 15A airplane on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here, to go there.

Had you been at Grider Field in Pine Bluff, Arkansas Saturday, September 11, 2010 you would have received a liberal dose of all of the above. The event was the Third Annual Fly-in put on by the Razorback Chapter (1388) of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The event is open to the public and the welcome mat is out for aviators of every stripe to fly in and enjoy the show.

RV aerobatic airpplane

RV aerobatic kit planes are serious aircraft powered by 160 to 200 horsepower engines.

Pilots of the aerobatic team, Falcon Flight, exclusively fly “RV” aircraft, a popular aerobatic plane which users build from kits. According to local EAA members there are more than 8,000 of these craft actively flying in the nation with at least twice that number in the process of being built. The kits are supplied by the Van’s Aircraft Company of Aurora OR. The “RV” moniker comes from the initials of the plane’s developer, Richard VanGrunsven. Kits come with everything needed except the engine. Most engines used for the aircraft are in the 160-200 horsepower range. The airplanes are fully aerobatic capable and do not need long runways to land or take off.

colorful aircraft tail

A really nice tail. This aerobatic plane was on display at the fly-in, but did not participate in the air show performances. Good paint!

Chapter officials also invite area car clubs to participate in the show as well. There were upwards to 100 Porsches, MG’s and a healthy representation of other sports and rare cars in attendance. They arrived in convoys and probably raised a lot of eyebrows on the trip to the airport.

Rolls Royce

I was derelict in not shooting more of the fine cars at the show. I could not resist this Rolls Royce however. It looks almost ready for the Queen of England.

EAA members at Grider Field, in many cases, perform maintenance on their aircraft in the chapter hangar. The hangar’s assemblage of aircraft is tantamount to a museum collection. Presently there is a Vultee BT-13, an old Army L-19, and a small bi-plane residing in the hangar. There is also a WWII trainer, a Fairchild PT-19 undergoing restoration. Grider Field was established in WWII as a pilot training facility, the PT-19 was one of the aircraft used in the training program.

The aircraft undergoing maintenance below is the aforementioned WWII trainer, a Vultee BT-13. The owner-pilot of this craft, Dave Johnson, once flew my person in this

Vultee BT-13 undergoing maintenance.

Vultee BT-13 undergoing maintenance in the Grider Field EAA hangar.

aircraft for an aerial photography session. Get a passenger view of the innards of the BT-13 here. Take a look at what we shot while in the air here.

After a rain scare came and went, the flight of aerobatic planes cranked up, took off in formations and put on an impressive show of precision flying. Team pilots bring some impressive flying credentials to the table. Team members are former US Air Force pilots and commercial airline pilots. The show was impressive.

team precision flying

Their show completed in Pine Bluff, the Texas-based Falcon aerobatic team flies toward Kansas for their next engagement of the day. No doubt, they will thrill folks there just like they did here.

I managed to get a “blind hog finds acorn” shot during the show. As the team was flying away from a pass over the spectators, the number five guy, the one in the back aligned with his partner at the top of the formation to give the impression of a two-tailed bi-plane. Fortunately, the Nikon shutter clicked at just the right time. I had no idea I had the image until I saw it on the screen. The Lord continues to take care of fools and drunks. The picture is below.

formation flying

I’d rather be lucky than good any day of the week.


See bigger and better versions of these and more airplane pictures in our weekly high-resolution gallery. Click here to go there. If you are looking on an I-Phone or a Mac, click here.

Thanks for dropping by!

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind