Northwest of Buffalo, NY is a place known as Niagara Falls, where they have a neat little tourist attraction that involves a fairly large amount of water. This super-sized backyard-garden water feature is often used as a backdrop for photos, both on the ground and in the air, and here at BuffaloWingz we think that such pikshurs are kinda 'purty.
So here's a couple'a purty pikshurs, compliments of a good friend...
First up, an almost surreal shot of a Bell P-63A Kingcobra with the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the background.
Project 914 Archives (Mike Butry collection)
And here's a real-mighty-fine view of three USSR-bound P-63Cs with the American, Bridal Veil, and Canadian 'Horseshoe' Falls.
Here's sumthin' super-groovy... Curtiss chief test pilot Lloyd Child takes the first of just twenty-three P-40Ds to be built for a spin in Western New York skies...
Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection)
The P-40D was such a major departure from all previous variants of the
P-40 that a new model number, 87, was assigned by Curtiss. Although two
subsequent variants of the P-40 (the P-40L and early P-40Ns) would leave the factory with only four
guns installed, the P-40D was the only Model 87 to have an
actual four-gun wing... one of very few commonalities it shared with most
of its predecessors.
Here's another shot of a P-40D, possibly the same ship shown above. Clearly visible here is the short carburetor intake on top of the nose, peculiar to the P-40D and some early P-40Es.
This cyber-rag is all about things with wings in the Buffalo and Western New York area. (if you don't believe me, just look up at the top of the page and read the blog description) Owing to Buffalo and WNY's close proximity to the home of hockey and really good donuts, (otherwise known as the Great White North or, in certain circles, Canada) you will, every once in a blue moon, find subject matter here that deals with our neighbors to the North. After all, they are 'in the area'... and they have airplanes up there, too.
We're not gonna give you a history lesson as to the origins of Fleet Aircraft of Fort Erie, Ontario, except to say that they were closely tied to Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. We're simply going to post a spiffy snapshot showing one of their nifty products. We're not sure exactly which one it is... your blogmeister thinks that it looks like a Fleet 11, but that model was apparently not introduced until 1934, which conflicts with the info that accompanied this photo. Speaking of which...
The original image was found HERE, and the photo is said to have been taken near the Niagara River at Chippawa, Ontario in 1931.
While your blogmeister was at the Buffalo Airport this past Sunday saying 'hi' to a vintage visitor, he also spied a couple of other birds... both of more recent vintage... and one which, after a check of the N-number, proved to be as interesting as it looked...
First, the Metro... this is a Fairchild Swearingen SA-227AC Metro III operated by Ameriflight. Nothing exciting, as it's just a civvie. But it's a pretty neat lookin' civvie.
This gray bird looked pretty interesting to me, and I was thinking that, despite its civil registration, it had to be military. Upon checking the N-number (N8107F) my suspicion was confirmed. This bird is a Hawker Beechcraft B300 operated by the US Army as part of
the PM ARES program. More info on that HERE.
And now a couple'a outtakes from the B-17 shots. I arrived early, and they were gassin' up the Fort when I caught this scene through the fence...
And roughly an hour and a half later, here's the Fort holding at 'last chance' before turning onto the runway with its first load of passengers for the day... one'a these days I'm gonna buy me a ride.
Your blogmeister headed out to Prior Aviation at KBUF this past Sunday morning specifically to see one particular airplane... unfortunately, the bird shown in these photos is not that particular airplane. The bird he really wanted to see, the Liberty Foundation's P-40, was apparently a no-show... but a B-17 with the name 'Memphis Belle' on its nose is better than nuthin' at all.
Now, before ya'll pile onto your blogmeister's back... he knows that a B-17 is nothing to scoff at. It's just that he's seen this particular Fort a bazillion times before, and has never seen the Liberty Foundation's P-40 up close and personal. So, being a P-40 nut, he was eager to have a second chance to get acquainted with this Hawk after having missed it the previous weekend at the Geneseo airshow, where it was also a no-show. You could say he was somewhat bummed... but, you play the hand dealt to you... so back to the B-17...
Yeah, yeah... we know... it's not the REAL 'Memphis Belle'. The real 'Belle' is
undergoing a bit of dustin' and cleanin' at the Air Force Museum. But
this-here Fort is still pretty groovy, even if it isn't a P-40. She's owned and operated by the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation, which was formed by the late David Tallichet, and normally based at Geneseo, NY... home of the Historical Aircraft Group. She is currently being leased to the Liberty Foundation, and they're touring with the aircraft in lieu of their own B-17 which was destroyed in an unfortunate incident last year.
About the name of this B-17... although we at BuffaloWingz refer to it as the 'Memphis Belle', it is actually named 'The Movie Memphis Belle'. There's a whole long, tangled story about the name and we shall not go into it here, primarily because we don' have all the dope on that story. But we will say that it's a fitting name, because this Fort 'starred' as the 'Memphis Belle' in the 1990 film of the same name. We could also say more on that score, but shall refrain... lest we break a record for the longest blog post in history.
Anyhoo, here's a few snaps taken by your blogmeister this past Sunday morning... enjoy...
In 1916, just months before the USA entered World War One, a buncha fellas from Yale University volunteered to form what was to become known as 'The Yale Unit', or 'The Millionaires Unit'... although not all of its members came from wealthy families. Officially designated by the US Navy as 'Aerial Coast Patrol Unit #1', this outfit's intended purpose was to help combat the U-boat threat. More on that particular outfit HERE.
In December 1916, a second 'Yale Unit' was formed, designated 'Aerial Coast Patrol Unit #2'... and later, a third such unit came into being, although it apparently never reached full fruition. The second 'Yale Unit' is the focus of today's post, however, as its members underwent initial flight training in Buffalo, NY, flying the Curtiss 'F Boat'.
The following two photos come from the San Diego Air & Space Museum's archives, and were taken by Harold Kantner in Buffalo during 1917. Three men in the first photo are identified as James Sanford 'Shorty' Otis, E.D. (Edward) DeCernea and Jay Schieffelin although it's not clear who is who...
More often than not, we like to write as little as possible here at BuffaloWingz... mostly due to utter laziness, but also because, on occasion, we come across something online which fits the bill nicely and/or is much more comprehensive than anything we can put together here in a half hour or so. The latter is the case in this instance.
Reproduced below, for convenience, are the relevant pages from a publication which can be found HERE.
We've been silent here at BuffaloWingz for the past few days... and, just as a heads-up, that may become the norm. Your blogmeister has several web projects going, a few that are active and a few others which are in the process of being constructed, and it's inevitable that some of them suffer from lack of attention while others are attended to.
One of those web projects is actually the oldest still-active website created by yours truly... and it's called 'The Hawk's Nest'. The 'Nest' is my personal tribute to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and the men and women who built, flew, and maintained this venerable pursuit ship during the war years... especially my Grandfather... as well as the folks who have restored and operated surviving examples through the subsequent six-and-a-half decades.
A perpetual work-in-progress, 'The Hawk's Nest' is continually
growing and evolving, albeit slowly sometimes. And, as alluded to above,
it does suffer from prolonged periods of neglect... in the month and
ten days since this cyber-rag you're currently reading was created, the
'Nest' has indeed been somewhat neglected. So, over the past few days,
your blogmeister has been wearing his webmaster hat in an attempt to
rectify the situation.
Anyhoo, please check out 'The Hawk's Nest'... and here's one of the most recent images to to be added to the site... enjoy...
Well... this year your blogmeister picked the wrong day to head out to the Geneseo airshow. Arrival at HAG's HQ was roughly 6:30AM, about half an hour after the place opened for business, and it never did stop raining the few hours we stayed. The original plan was to go on Saturday, but as alluded to in the previous post, yours truly wasn't feeling all that swell. Sunday morning I was feeling slightly better, but not enough to wander around for half a day, hoping the skies would clear.
As an aside...
It's a tradition... my Dad was a photographer, not merely a picture taker like myself, but a bonafide shutterbug who knew the craft inside and out. Whenever we'd head to some event like an airshow or a race at Watkins Glen, he'd always spy a lovely scene somewhere along the way... often one that included the Sun... and would pull over to capture it on film.
Well, I no longer shoot film... although someday I'd like to go back, but only if I can rebuild Dad's darkroom! ... and I am not so talented or technically adept as 'ole Bruno. But I try to carry on the tradition as best I can. This was the only glimpse we caught of the sun all morning. 'Twas taken along Broadway (Route 20) just past Darien, NY. The rising sun peeked out for maybe a minute or three and that was that... didn't see it again until later that afternoon.
Okay, back to the airshow...
Apart from the rain, another disappointment was the small number of birds on the field (unless you count the hundreds of swallows!) and in the hangar. I didn't get an exact count, but there couldn't have been a whole lot more than two dozen warbirds, with a few more light planes. In and of itself, it wasn't a horrible showing... but compared to the norm for Genny, it was mighty disappointing.
Absent was the one bird your blogmeister wanted to see most this year... a Focke Wulf Fw 190A-8, albeit one of the FlugWerk replicas. Two stories surfaced as to the reason for its absence; 1) the bird was bent 2) the pilot was bent. Dunno which was the truth, but here's to a speedy recovery in either case.
So no Butcher Bird. Damn... really wanted to see one'a those up close and personal, replica or no. However, an equally intriguing type was sent in its stead... a Yakovlev Yak-3, which was, coincidentally, also a replica... albeit one made by the original manufacturer from original plans. (and, I *think*, original jigs and some original parts... not totally sure on that, though) The major difference between these replicas and the originals is the Allison engines that power the former.
Here's a singularly uninspiring view of this bird...
Another aside... sorta... this year was a first for your blogmeister. For many years my Dad and I went to airshows and other 'guy' events, and only a few times have the gals in my family been convinced to go along; my Mom went to some races at the Glen, as did my sisters, although they were too young at the time to have any say! And Ma also went to a number of car shows with Dad.
Anyhoo, ever since my Dad went West I've tried on occasion to get my Mom to do some things along these lines, but she never really took much interest in airshows or airplanes. So, you can imagine your blogmeister's surprise, and even shock, when she expressed a desire to go to Geneseo this year. I'm still a bit speechless.
But I tell 'ya, for someone who doesn't seem to normally give a rat's ass about things with wings, (unless those wings flutter and their owner makes a chirping noise) my Mom was surprisingly insightful... her questions and comments were often right on the mark, such as when she observed that several of the Harvards on the field were operated by the Canadians, or asking about the mission and victory markings on the B-17; "Now, those swastikas and the little bombs... those are airplanes they shot down and bombs they dropped?"
However... what really floored me was when she noted how the rough construction of the Yak-3, with its imperfectly fitting panels and not-so flush fasteners, might have some sort of impact on the ship's aerodynamic qualities. That put a big smile on my face... =)
I had to reign her in once, however... and this is a bit of a rant too, so be forewarned. We were in the hangar and I was maneuvering around and between birds to get a photo I wanted, when one of the pilots or ground crew gave me a stern and less-than-polite warning to watch out for a pitot tube which, of course, I had seen and was actually in the act of trying to avoid, close quarters and all. Sure, I felt like tellin' the guy that this wasn't my first rodeo, but just said, "yeah, I know". But then I saw the look on my Mom's face and had to immediately stem the tide I knew would follow... 'Ma, it's okay... he doesn't know me and has to assume I'm your average Joe Schmo who doesn't know airplanes and that I have no eyes, brain, or connection between the two." Either that, or he was just a pompous jackass. There's alotta really nice aviation folks out there, but there are also some who are truly full of themselves and have superiority complexes. Same can be said of any population sub-set, really, but I have noticed a higher proportion in the aviation community... and if you're not a pilot, you're not worth a second of their time. Though, to be fair, your average Joe Schmo can sometimes indeed be a real 'schmo'. With some of the things I've seen people do at airshows, and in general, I don't blame that fella at all for being protective of his airplane. But I don't like being told that I'm an idiot, no matter how polite the teller may be, and I admit... I had to grin every time my Mom, still a bit hot under the collar, would mutter something like, "My son has been around airplanes since he was little, he knows what he's doing. He was brought up to respect other people's property and..." Well, you get the picture.
Thanks Ma... =)
Okay, rant off... back to the photos...
With the rain, I didn't take many snaps outside. Actually, with feeling kinda crapola, I didn't take many photos, period. But here are some of the few... enjoy...
We had to shelter underneath the B-17 for a bit during one of the moments of heavier rain. I told my Ma that it was her official initiation to the Geneseo airshow. In my opinion, you haven't experienced Genny until you've spent some time underneath the wing of a warbird to escape a deluge, strategically placed to avoid the inevitable myriad of steady drips and streams of water that come leakin' out the bottom...
Entering the hangar, we were immediately greeted by a big Hog...
And, to my delight, there was an old friend hiding behind the Hog...
Hows'about another look at her, huh?
As far as the HAG's normal residents go, I was eager to set my eyes upon the A-20...
...and the B-23...
My Mom thought that this was cute... this one's for you, Ma!
Caught this groovy view of the B-17 out the back end of the hangar...
And a few more. I wasn't fibbin' when I said I didn't take alotta photos... but, as usual, I tried to take a few lookers...