Wings and Wheels

Restored Ryan PT-19 Trainer

The Razorback Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association at Grider Field in Pine Bluff, Arkansas restored this Fairchild PT-19 World War II training aircraft to flying condition. There was a method in their madness. Grider Field was a pilot training facility in World War II.  The PT-19 was the plane used for pilot training. By their actions, the members created historical value for the community and added one more plane to the national inventory of restored WWII aircraft. The plane here is on display during the organization’s annual Wings and Wheels Fly-in and Car Show, September 20, 2013.

If you are into airplanes, old and new, and cars of the same breeds, Grider Field, the Pine Bluff, Arkansas municipal airport was the place to be September 2013. The Razorback Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, headquartered at Grider Field rolled out their impressive collection of experimental and World War II aircraft for all the world to see up close and personal for their Annual Wings and Wheels Fly-in and Car Show. They invited a local car club to bring their custom vehicles which were equally impressive.

Formation flying

Click on the formation to see the original picture, story and more pix.

One of the cool parts of any air show is seeing pilots show off. They love it and you love it. In this case, a local group, The MID SOUTH RV-ATORS, all builder-pilots of their own RV performance aircraft put on a fine show of formation flying. The show was complete with trailing smoke and the hair-raising throb of reciprocal aircraft engines whizzing buy at altitudes low enough to get the decibels you love to hear. You can see one of the formations and other pictures from the event on the Photo of the Week page  at Corndancer dot-com, where this story started. We’ll wait here while you look.

North American AT-6 at Grider Field Arkansas

You are eyeball to eyeball with a finely restored North American AT-6, World War II era advanced trainer, one of the restored aircraft owned and maintained by Razorback EAA Chapter members. This plane was the last trainer fledgling pilots would fly before taking the controls of combat aircraft.

North American AT-6

Side view of North American AT-6. Unlike many trainers of the WW II era, this aircraft was sturdily built and saw service in many foreign air services as a fully-armed combat aircraft.

Aeronca L3B

This is the business end of a World War II Aeronca L3B. The light plane was used for observation and we presume, occasional VIP transportation. We are fortunate that the engine cowling was removed for this display. The four-cylinder engine required 73-octane gas, high-performance juice in those days.

Aeronca L3B

Aeronca L3B side view. Lots of visibility and precious little bullet-proofing material. This little bird was a legendary performer. The recommended cargo limit was ten pounds. It has a 12-gallon gas tank.

Pilot's compartment of the L3B

This is the pilot’s compartment in the L3B. The basics are there and the gas tank is just above your knees. This is aircraft 101a. While some bodily contortion was required to capture this image, no photographers were injured.

Metallic Wasp

Pratt and Whitney radial engines are legendary for their quality, sturdiness, and longevity. The engine you see below is a nine-cylinder Pratt and Whitney Wasp attached to a Vultee BT-13 undergoing maintenance. The engine is OK, the gas tanks on the plane are getting the fix. I have been flown for an aerial photography session in this aircraft. See a view from the cockpit and a view in the cockpit from that trip.

Pratt and Whitney engine

You see two of the nine cylinders which make this 450 horsepower Pratt and Whitney wasp twirl. When this big boy cranks up, the neighbors know it.

Formation flying

The MIDSOUSTH RV-ATORS led by a restored 1943 Howard DGA-15 do one of many formation flyovers during the show.

Men looking at custom cars

A couple of guys are inspecting a thirties era “hot-rod” Ford truck. The vehicle was for sale, but apparently the yellow beauty was not tempting enough to bring out any checkbooks.

Patriotic decor on Corvette

A fine piece of patriotic art adorns the engine compartment of a late model Corvette at the show. Sa-lute!

See more pictures of this event in our Wings and Wheels gallery. Forty-five pix in all from this event.

The annual Wings and Wheels Fly-in is a shining example the good that comes from people who don’t mind volunteering sweat and putting their money where their mouth is. Our congratulations to the Razorback Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association for a fine community event. Great job!

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.


Memories on wheels

view from wwII jeep

Here's how it looks as you are tooling down the road in a M38A1, the third generation of military jeeps, which began service in the military in 1952. Note the abundance of open air and lack of what are now considered civilized amenities, and three gear shift handles. From left to right these are: transmission, four-wheel-drive in or out; and four-wheel drive, high or low. You will not be tested on this, but thousands were during the long service life of this hardy vehicle. Fond memories and tall tales abound with it.

The first rain in recent weeks did not dampen or impede the spirit of  hardy souls who came for the the 10th  Annual Petit Jean Arkansas Military Vehicle Preservation Association Rally on, you guessed it, on Petit Jean mountain in central Arkansas. The three-day event attracted enthusiasts from Arkansas and eight other states who brought 68 trucks, trailers, a half-size jeep, a half-size half-track and a couple of towed cannons. This adventure started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there and get in on the start and see some additional WWII vehicle pictures, including a restored “Army Harley.”

WWII dodge power wagon ambulance

This 1944 WC 44 ambulance was built in on what is popularly known as a "Dodge Power Wagon" chassis. It would carry four stretcher patients or six walking wounded. Michael Penny of Poplar Bluff MO is the owner. The 1943 jeep in the foreground was manufactured in WWII by Ford Motor Co. The recessed headlights are the giveaway hint in the jeep's provenance. Several other automotive manufacturers also built jeeps. Paul and Ev Harless of Ada Valley AR are the owners.

There was a good variety of vehicles including the old faithful “duce-and-a-half,” jeeps of many vintages including an MP version, three ambulances, some wheel mounted guns, a WWII US Army Harley Davidson, and other miscellaneous and sundry wheeled vehicles and military artifacts. Unlike most museum grade pieces, it was ok to touchy-feely-crawl-around on most of them. And ride in them to boot. And ride we did.

hand salute from jeep

WWII veteran Jack Brannon of Thayer MO briskly renders the hand-salute as his ride rounds the clubhouse turn near the end of the convoy. His props his foot on the right front fender, the de rigueur position for passengers in this model of jeep, much to the disdain of military police and commanding officers. His driver is Kenneth Brown, also of Thayer.

What’s the use of having a vehicle and not driving it? And if it just happens to be a military vehicle, why not a convoy? And yea, verily, following that concept, the participants formed a convoy and we tooled around the top of the mountain, stopping once to gaze at what is normally a fantastic vista, then socked in with fog. Fortunately, as I was making my descent, the haze lifted. The view was spectacular.

View from the top, Petit Jean Mountain

Looking at the Arkansas River, still misty from a recent rain, from the top of Petit Jean Mountain at an observation point on the east side of the mountain. Patience paid off.

The collectors and restorers of this organization do a good job of preserving a valuable part of our history not only as restorers, but as researchers and historical advocates. For that we should be grateful. And we are.


Every week we shoot more pictures than we can post, so we put those suckers up in a high resolution galleries, one for folks with a PC and one for folks with Macs and I-Phones. This week there are 19 bigger and better pictures from this event, including another Harley shot, some convoy pictures, and another “view from the top. For PC, click here. Mac, I-Phone or PC, click here.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

A place to honor an Ace. And his compatriots.

Jenny Hay and Gentry Hanks

Louisiana State University graduate students Jenny Hay (left) and Gentry Hanks smile in front of the overflow crowd they helped draw for the grand opening and dedication of the Captain Fletcher E. Adams 357th Fighter Group Museum in Ida, Louisiana. The 357th Fighter Group had the most Aces and one of the best aerial combat victory records of World War II, one of which still stands.

“They say,” that the population of Ida, Louisiana a northwest Louisiana village, teeters at around 256 souls. On July 23, 2010, more than 220 folks crowded into the Ida Community Center to devour catfish, hushpuppies and the other gastronomical delights which typically accompany this traditional southern meal. Simple math will tell you that the attendance at the fish fry exceeded adult population of the town. Not too shabby. They came as part of the grand opening and dedication of the Fletcher E. Adams 357th Fighter Group Museum. The impressive attendance was a harbinger of things to come.

The next day, Saturday, July 24, some guestimated that a crowd pushing 1,000 crowded into the city’s park for the museum dedication. See how the whole thing started with pictures and story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, including a picture of Chuck Yeager, a pilot in the 357th. Click here to go there.

catfish dinner in ida louisiana

Fry it and they will come. The catfish supper for the museum dedication set a new record in attendance. Not just for Ida. For the world. How many towns can attract more than the adult population to a public meeting? Not many. Once again, a small town shows the bigguns how its done. The dessert end of serving line was all home-made. Return trips were common.

The museum is named after a fallen local hero, Captain Fletcher E. Adams who was raised in Ida. His story and the story of the 357th Fighter Group have been chronicled in a book, Bleeding Sky,  by Joey Maddox, author and son of Ida mayor Smokie Maddox. Joey had books available and I scarfed up my autographed copy.

The 357th flew out of Leiston Airfield in Suffolk, merry olde England. In recent years, a friends of Leiston group has formed to preserve the history and what parts of the old aerodrome that have not been returned to agrarian pursuits. Pete Sanders, one of the organizers and spiritual leader of the group was in attendance for the dedication.

Pete Sanders pins Aline Adams

Pete Saunders of London, England adorns Aline Adams, widow of Captain Fletcher E. Adams with a "Friends of Leiston" pin with the emblem of the organization. The Friends of Leiston preserve the airfield from which the 357th sallied forth. Pasqaule Buzzeo, a 357th crew chief watches the pinning. He was at Leiston keeping the planes in the air.

The crowd was about as close to Norman Rockwell America as you will see in the 21st century, at least so far. One group, not so Norman Rockwellish, but none-the-less subscribing to principles of that era, the Patriot Guard motorcycle group, was there in force. They roared into town and planted and manned a ring of flags around the town gazebo where the dedication ceremony was held. They stood rock-steady a long time the hot July sun.

When my son, Doug and the USAR unit of which he is a member were bused from Little Rock to Fort Hood prior to their 2009 deployment to Iraq, these good people provided a motorcycle escort the entire way. On their nickel.

Patriot guard stands by flag

A Patriot Guard motorcyclist stands by his flag during the ceremonies.

The townspeople of Ida took to this project like a duck to water. Volunteers came out of the woodwork and nothing was too much to be asked. Some even coughed up good yankee green to support the effort. One of the results of this impressive volunteer undertaking is the amount of artifacts now available for the museum. Double, maybe triple what you see in the museum is in storage. The mayor and his far-sighted fellow residents of Ida are already envisioning a bigger museum.

Larry Maquire

Larry Maquire,a local custom jewelry maker, formerly operated a wood-working shop in the old post office building which now houses the museum. As the museum progressed, Larry was a willing and able volunteer. In the last hours before the opening he fined tuned the bathroom door which was not swinging like it should. A few trips to a saw horse on the porch and a little planing here and there, and the pesky door worked to perfection. A new museum should definitely not have a cranky bathroom door.

Jenny and Gentry curated the museum collection and display. I have learned that curating, in this case, meant cataloging, hanging, tagging, placing, moving stuff when you didn’t like where it was, sweeping, carrying out the trash and … repeat if necessary. Their stellar efforts were voluntary with  the blessing of the LSU faculty to which the two students were beholden.

inside the Captain Fletcher E. Adams museum

The museum displays artifacts from the WW II era. The large framed objects are maps of Europe printed on silk which were issued to pilots and aircrews for escape and evasion land navigation in case they were shot down. The map on the left was actually successfully used to help a P-51 pilot get to a safe haven after crashing.

A lot of people remember Ida for its now unfortunately closed Carroway’s General Store. The store fell victim to the times, a not unusual set of circumstances in rural America. Fortuitously, across the street from Carroway’s is the Cross-Roads Cafe, a prime example of a good ol’ southern eatery. It knows no strangers and the food is good. The menu reflects the culture and meals are cooked on the spot. I ingested a Cross-Roads catfish plate and a fine cheeseburger with just the perfect amount of tasty grill grease. I can say I was not disappointed. My arteries are still complaining.

cross roads cafe ida louisiana

The dining room of the Cross Roads Cafe in Ida LA. This is the quintessential culinary house of worship for southern cookery. Food served. Coffee drunk. Lies told. Nuff sed.

But wait, there’s more.

Each week we publish a high-resolution gallery of the week’s shootings. There are always pictures we thought were cool enough to include, but did not quite make it to Photo of the Week or Weekly Grist. See ’em here.

July 26, 2010 — I found a few more pix, so now there even more, mainly of Chuck Yeager. Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

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