Aircraft

Douglas World Cruiser

In the aftermath of World War I, Europeans pursued the airplane as a means of visiting overseas places far more vigorously than Americans. In 1919, two Brits, John Alcock and Arthur Brown, first flew the Atlantic. Later that same year, two Australians first flew from England to Australia. In 1923, two U.S. Army Air Service fliers made the first nonstop U.S. Transcontinental flight in a modified Fokker T-2. 1923 also saw several European flyers attempting to circumnavigate the globe by air. All were unsuccessful in their efforts.

Undaunted by these failures, the U.S. Army Air Service was drawing up plans of their own to stake their claim as the first fliers to make the flight around the world. In a team effort that some historians have equated with the 1960s’ effort to put a man on the moon, Army planners in less than a year acquired suitable aircraft, researched an efficient but unorthodox route and devised a logistics network to support the flight. Working with the Douglas Airplane Company of Santa Monica, California, the Army purchased five highly modified Navy torpedo bombers capable of flying on wheels or pontoons – a critical factor since the aircraft would switch between the two depending on which part of the world to be covered – over land or along coastlines. Douglas dubbed the aircraft the Douglas World Cruiser (DWC).

On April 6, 1924, the four DWCs – the Seattle, Boston, Chicago and New Orleans – departed Sand Point for southeast Alaska and points west. Despite horrible weather, the eight crew members pushed on. Unfortunately, the Seattle, piloted by the mission commander, Major Frederick. Martin, crashed into a mountain on the Alaska Peninsula. Surviving 10 days in the wilderness, Martin and Staff Sergeant Alva Harvey were rescued. Their flight was over; the three others contonued on to Japan.

On September 28th, 1924 they touched down to a jubilant reception at Sand Point. They had come full circle to complete their long journey around the globe and into the history books.

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Interstate Cadet S1-A

Had she not been the first of the WAFS to be killed in service to the US Army Air Corps during World War II, Cornelia Fort would have been an iconic Aviation Heroine from those Golden Years of aviation during the 1940s, as famous as Wiley Post and Pancho Barnes. Her most significant adventure occurred during an early morning flying lesson over Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As her student was flying the aircraft toward the runway at John Rodgers Airfield (now Honolulu International), they came under attack by Japanese aircraft. Cornelia took control and was able to avoid being rammed by one of the attacking Japanese planes, then dodged a strafing pass by another before landing. She and her student then had to run for cover as their Interstate Cadet was targeted yet again, but they managed to live through the day that claimed the lives of 2,335 US Servicemen (1,177 from the USS Arizona) and 68 civilians. The Cadet was less lucky, suffering several bullet holes from Japanese guns. After repairs it passed through multiple owners in Hawaii before returning to the US mainland. When its new owner passed away the historic Cadet was sold for scrap. Luckily, it was recovered and restored in 2012. Today, the aircraft is owned and flown by Lost Aviators of Pearl Harbor LLC, at Skagit-Bayview Airport.

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‘Tora’ Zero

The Lost Aviators of Pearl Harbor operate N7757 to play an active role in telling the story of Cornelia Fort and the Interstate Cadet she flew on the morning of December 7th, 1941. The aircraft was one of the stars of the film ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!’ Modified from a T-6 Texan (there were no airworthy A6M examples at that time), these replicas of the are commonly known as ‘Tora’ Zeros.

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Boeing Model 40C

The first Model 40 was built for a 1925 U.S. Post Office competition as a replacement for the converted military de Havillands that had carried the airmail since 1918. A.T.C. #27,the Boeing Model 40B was the next modification in the Boeing “40A” series of aircraft which came about under A.T.C. #2 in 1927. Like it’s earlier counterpart, the Model 40A, the “B” was a rather large biplane carrying a combination payload of mail, cargo, and two passengers. The passengers were seated in an enclosed cabin and the pilot was seated behind, in an open cockpit. Because the cabin section was isolated from the pilot, some ingenious pilots had devised a speaking tube system to enable them to talk to their passengers and explain the unfolding scenery far down below. The Model 40A was powered with the Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engine of 400-410 hp. The updated model 40B was powered with the larger, 9 cylinder Pratt & Whitney Hornet engine of 500 hp. The next model to reach production was the Model 40C, with an enlarged cabin allowing four passengers to be carried. Production continued until February 1932.

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Gee Bee Q.E.D. II

The Moss Super Q.E.D. II replicates the last aircraft built by the Granville Brothers, famed designers of air race planes in the 20s and 30s. Aviatrix Jackie Cochran entered the original Gee Bee Q.E.D. in the 1934 MacRobertson Trophy Race from London, England to Melbourne, Australia. Minor damage on the first leg convinced Jackie it could not be landed safely at unimproved airfields along the route, so she withdrew. The aircraft entered numerous Bendix and Thompson trophy races from 1934 to 1938, every one ending short of the finish line due to technical issues. In 1939, Francisco Sarabia of Mexico broke several world speed records in the Q.E.D. including a flight from Mexico City to New York City in 10 hours and 47 minutes, improving on Amelia Earhart’s previous world record by several hours. Sadly, Sarabia met his demise crashing in the potomac River the morning after a celebratory dinner at the White House.

Inspired by the history of the 1924 Gee Bee Q.E.D., Pacific Northwest aviator Jim Moss embarked on the Q.E.D. replica project in 2001. Among a very few modifications to the original design, the 650 hp Pratt & Whitney Hornet engine was replaced with a 1,425 hp Wright Cyclone. Jim and his team of dedicated craftsmen completed the project in August 2013, just weeks before he lost his battle with cancer.

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B-25D Mitchell ‘Grumpy’

 Our B-25D Mitchell Bomber is packed with military and civilian heroes, lauded and unsung. Billy Mitchell, the only American for whom a U.S. combat aircraft has been named. Jimmy Doolittle, who gave us hope after Pearl Harbor. Countless pilots and crews took on bombing missions that spanned all war theaters—in particular the South Pacific–and who also brought desperately needed planes to the European theater. Add the designers, engineers, and Rosie the Riveters who ensured the B-25 was the hardiest of planes. And finally, all the civilian owners who’ve kept the plane alive and active, most recently on a mission honoring World War II veterans.

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P-51B Mustang ‘Impatient Virgin’

Nicknamed “their little friend” by Allied bomber crews in World War II, the P-51B Mustang emerged in 1942 as the fast, high-altitude North American fighter that could escort bombers deep into enemy territory and turn the tide of losses sustained during long-range missions. The P-51B also saw action in the Korean War and remains a favorite racer and aerobatics performer for today’s aviators. Between 1944–1945, our Impatient Virgin flew more than 700 hours for the 376th North American Fighter Squadron in England. That’s a more than exceptional record—in most cases, a P-51B flew only about 75 hours before sustaining irreparable damage. After a rather interesting crash, our plane lay scattered in a British beet field for more than a half-century, when it was rediscovered and “harvested” by extremely patient archaeologists.

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F8F Bearcat

Designed to meet and beat the infamous Japanese Zero and defend Navy fleets against incoming kamikaze attacks, the Grumman Bearcat was among the last piston-engine flyers built specifically for World War II combat. As the saying goes, you didn’t strap into the Bearcat; you strapped it onto you—this little plane was all attitude and performance. No radar, no missiles: The Bearcat was a scrappy, feral fighter that could move from brake release at sea level to 10,000 feet in just 96 seconds.

For better or worse, World War II hostilities ended just as the first fleet of Bearcats was en route to combat deployment, though many of the 1,200+ planes produced did see military service over the next decades. The Bearcat was the first plane used in performances by the US Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration team. Our Wampus Cat, one of 10 Bearcats still flying today, had a long, winning career in civilian air racing and demonstrations.

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F7F Tigercat ‘Bad Kitty’

What do we all love? A come-back story. One of the fabled Grumman “cats,” the F7F-3’s flight path is about redemption–how “the best damn fighter in the world” was literally rescued from the graveyard. Though the Tigercat was originally designed as a combat carrier plane, it never saw service in WWWII. That said, this twin-engine fighter combined the power and stealth needed for ground missions in the Korean War, and also found a niche in photo reconnaissance. But it was sorely underused, and every Tigercat would have been turned into scrap metal if it weren’t for another innovation—a second career fighting forest fires. Our F7F-3, one of only 6 Tigercats still flying today, can tell the story.

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Douglas DC-3 Dakota

Perhaps the most iconic airliner of all time, the Douglas DC-3 brought airline travel to the masses. As the military C-47, it became the backbone of our WWII transport fleet, supplying troops and bases all around the world. After wartime service, most of the retired C-47s found work in the civilian world. Between 1946-50, eighty-five percent of airliners were DC-3s. Our DC-3 saw service in Burma, China and India as a C-47 and, when converted, throughout the Western Hemisphere as a civilian DC-3.

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P-51D Mustang

The P-51 was the “100 day wonder” of WWII. Originally specified and ordered by Great Britain, and ignored by the US Army Air Corps, the aircraft was designed and built by North American Aviation from the ground up in 100 days. When it’s capabilities were later recognized by the USAAC, it was ordered in vast quantities. The range, speed and high altitude capabilities enabled the Allied forces to escort bombers far deeper into enemy territory than any other fighter aircraft; as exemplified by the 332 Fighter Group (the Tuskegee Airmen in their ‘Red Tail’ Mustangs). This allowed the continuation and fruition of the American Bomber force’s tactic of precision daylight bombing.

Built in 1945, this aircraft is believed to have served in the Texas Air Guard and with the Indonesian Air Force. Along with one other, it was returned to the US by Stephen Johnson, sold to the War Eagles Museum where it went through initial restoration. It was further restored by Pena Olivas for Bill Anders in 1995. Donated by Bill to the museum when the museum was started in 1996, ‘Val-Halla’ reflects the the colors of the 57th FIS (Fighter Interceptor Squadron), the Black Knights. This is the squadron Bill flew F-89’s with back in 1958. Bill raced this plane at Reno in 1997, ’98 and ’99 as race #68, commemorating the year Apollo 8 went to the moon. His best showing with this airplane was on a gusty race Sunday in ’97, taking third in the Unlimited Class Silver race.

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A-1 Skyraider

BuNo 126965 is an AD-4NA built in the early-50′s. While with the US Navy it served aboard the USS Kearsarge with VA-115 in 1953, off the coast of Korea. The cease-fire was called before it saw combat action, however the aircraft of VA-115 conducted DMZ patrols for the duration of the cruise. When it returned stateside it was stationed with FASRON 8 at Alameda before transitioning to FAETULANT in Norfolk, VA from November 1954 until August 1955. She ultimately entered storage at Litchfield Park in August 1957. She was stricken from the Navy list in July 1958, and left storage for France in March 1960.

While with the French l’Armee de l’Air, our Skyraider was based at Chateaudun but served in Algeria in 1962, Djibouti in 1968, Madagascar in 1971, and Chad in 1976. It was sent to storage with Sogerma in September 1979 where it remained until 1983. The Musee de l’Air at Le Buurget acquired the aircraft in 1984, and sold it to a private owner in Belgium in 1985. This aircraft was purchased by Heritage Flight Museum in February of 2004 and very arduously flown, towed, cargoed, towed again, and flown again back to Bellingham from Belgium!

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