The old birds are still at it

 Old WWII airplanes

Four of a kind, more or less. From right Stearman trainer, Ryan PT-19, Vultee BT-13 and a North American AT-6, all on display at the 2015 Annual Razorback Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association on Grider Field at the Pine Bluff Regional Airport. All of these old birds fly. Some more than others.

It’s always fun to attend an airshow where you can not only see, but also walk around the old WWII era birds and play touchy-feely. This is also the one time that non-aviation folks are allowed to come and go as they please off and on the normally hallowed and verboten grounds of an airport.

Old Stearman Biplane

This old PT-17, AKA Stearman, Boeing Model 75 is in perfect flying order. I always recognize the distinct war cry of its radial engine. I have high hopes of being a passenger in the aircraft ‘one of these days.’

Cockpit of Lockwood Air Cam II

Click on the cockpit to see more Air Cam II pictures and read the story.

Air shows also attract unusual aircraft, and this one was no different. Pilot and aircraft enthusiast Presley Melton of North Little Rock AR flew in his Lockwood Air Cam II plane.

The forerunner of this aircraft was made famous during as it plied the skies of Africa during  a long aerial photography shoot for National Graphic. See pictures and read more about this amazing bird on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer We’ll wait here while you look.

Ryan PT 19

During WWII, Grider Field, now Pine Bluff Regional Airport was home to a US Army Air Corps basic pilot training school. The primary aircraft used to train these pilots was a Ryan Navion, AKA PT-19. More than 70 years ago, dozens of aircraft just like this gave fledgling pilots their first experience at the controls of a flying airplane. Notice the crank between the aircraft number and wing. That’s how one starts the engine on this bird. Can you spell knuckle-buster?

Vultee BT-13

This is the Vultee BT-13, another WWII trainer. It flies regularly. I have been a passenger in this aircraft doing an aerial photography shoot. See the story about that experience here. While I was at it, I shot a picture of how it looks as a passenger in the rear seat of the aircraft. Click here and see what I saw.

AT-6 cranking up

This North American AT-6 is belching the smoke and clatter of its mighty radial engine cranking up. Pilot Clarence Rittelmyer is about to take off as he gives a friend a ride.

Clarence Rittlemyer

Heeeeeeeeere’s Clarence. Clarence Rittelmyer at the controls of his AR-6.

AT-6 Flying

And here’s Clarence and the AT-6 from the ground as it roars by skyward.

BT-16 Engine

The Pratt and Whitney 9-cylinder Wasp engine as the business end of the Vultee BT-13

RV aircraft landing

The show always features formation flying and/or aerobatics. Gerald Lloyd and Bulldog Formation Flights did the honors this year with a fine display of precision flying. Unfortunately, the haze in the area and distance from the camera prevented me from recording any decent pictures, so you’ll have to be satisfied with a few of the birds as they landed.

1955 Oldsmobile Holiday Coupe

A 1955 Oldsmobile Holiday Coupe. These cars had big engines and out on Highway 67 between El Dorado and Calion AR back in the day, they ruled the roost in a quarter mile. Ud’n, ud’n!

Ibadee, ibadee, ibadee, that’s all folks. No mind challenging observations. Just gool ol’ fun.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


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