Friday, August 19, 2011

Visiting The B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" & CAF's National Capitol Squadron

As I mentioned here before, I'm an enthusiast of historic military aircraft, primarily from the World War II era.

So, this past week, I had a chance to visit a few more aircraft from that era.

The B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" is up in Leesburg, VA this weekend, and I went by the airport this afternoon to check out the airplane. They're giving revenue rides in the morning, and then you can tour the airplane in the afternoon.

Flying in a B-17 is quite an experience. In 1990, I flew in the B-17G "Texas Raiders," operated by the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.  Here's a video from a 2007 flight in Napa, CA.

Earlier in the week, I visited the National Capitol Squadron of the CAF, a great organization once based in the town I grew up, Harlingen, TX, until 1991, when they moved to Midland, TX. They operated annual their annual Airsho in the first week of October, where there would be aerobatic groups like the US Air Force "Thunderbirds" or the US Navy "Blue Angels," as well as recreations of World War II air battles. It was a history lesson you couldn't get in a classroom, and it instilled in me and appreciation of our history, our nation, and those who have defended it. During the 1980s, legendary singer and former B-29 bombardier "Tennessee" Ernie Ford was a guest announcer, and wrote "The Ballad of the Ghost Squadron" for the group.

The National Capitol Squadron consists mostly of training aircraft, like the SNJ, a Navy version of the AT-6 Texan trainer (in the right, lower corner of photo below). well as a BT-13 Valiant basic trainer. This is the type of airplane my grandfather, as a USAAF air cadet, was killed in a training accident, right before he would have received his wings to fight in World War II.

The National Capitol Squadron is located off of Hwy. 29 near Culpeper, VA. They have an Open Hangar Day on the second Saturday of the month. If you're in the area, drop by.

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