Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cold War Air Museum invited to DFW Aviation Expo

DFW International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration and American Airlines are pleased to invite students, ages Elementary through High School and College, to attend the Sixth Annual Career Expo at DFW Airport.

Last year, more than 4,000 students attended the event which includes tables of college and career recruiters and advisers as well as modern and vintage aircraft, located both indoors and out.

This year, the Cold War Air Museum has been invited to participate. We have supported other Career Events at Lancaster and other local airports, but this will be the biggest such event for us to date.

Our Mi-2 will be flying over for the event. Our story reinforces the utility of military and civilian aircraft around the world and the shortage of, and high demand for, aircraft mechanics, technicians and pilots worldwide.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mil Mi-2, Bord 212 next up

At the Cold War Air Museum, we're getting a lot of experience with our Mi-2s. We learn as much as we can from former field and factory techs that contact us and visit. You can share your experience and stories by contacting us at the museum as others have done.

Our local techs and mechanics have also applied lots of their experience at dealing with problems that occur in aging aircraft everywhere. Opening and inspecting the fuel bay for corrosion is now a standard procedure for Charles. We are fortunate to have his experience and skills. Sometimes we don't know what we must deal with inside until we get down to bare metal.

Getting down to the bare metal requires quite a bit of work and and if there are indications it is necessary, we also remove the external stiffeners (hats) to inspect the area beneath.

After evaluating the work to be done, to patch or replace, the decision was made to replace a section of the skin on 212 as we did with Bord 211. This requires suspending the Mil so we can safely remove more of the structure. Work is proceeding as shown in the earlier posts on Bord 211.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mil Mi-2, Bord 213 nears operational readiness

Another Cold War Air Museum, Mi-2 is near her FAA sign-off.

The bright tail rotor on 213 stands out. The colors distinctively identify this tail rotor as having once been destined for a German base. Pete shows the relative size of the aircraft and where we have some clean-up left to do.

In order to show the ships tail, the first picture above violated the photographer's dictum that "you should never take a photograph of a woman or an airplane from behind".To make up for that first picture, here is another. Paint touch-up will come after everything else is done.

Like her sister ship 211, Bord 213 will soon have a basic complement of U.S. compatible radios. The instrument panel hinges forward to allow access behind the panel. Power for the soon-to-be panel mounted radios is being run from the communications breaker panel above the pilot on the left.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Supersonic Cowboys - Captain Ron Knott

The F-8 Crusader was the first operational fighter with a top speed in excess of 1,000 mph and the last American fighter with guns as a primary weapon.

Ron Knott, author of Supersonic Cowboys, a compilation of stories about the valiant F-8 and her pilots, found us this weekend.

Ron's book is available through his web site, where more information can be found about Ron, his book and his support for our country. We appreciate Ron's visit and we honor Ron and all those whose stories are told in Supersonic Cowboys.

Ron's son Kerry, a private pilot, got a taste for fast flight in an L29 trainer. As a flying museum, we value seeing this kind of experience passed from generation to generation.

68SJ is one of the L29's actively flying at Lancaster. Currently there are four U.S. licensed L29s with eight rated pilots based at the airport. No longer showing her Bulgarian colors, Bord 45 is now painted in a unique design created by her local pilot team.

Following Kerry's flight Sunday morning, another group arrived Sunday afternoon. On those occasions when someone has the opportunity to fly with one of the pilots of these aircraft, friends and family may come to share in a unique, generally once-in-a-lifetime, experience.

These kids are sharing dad's fun along with other family members through 68SJ's on-board cameras.

This kind of second life for these former soviet block jets could hardly have been envisioned by their designers and former flight crews.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fair Play

A group from the Cold War Air Museum recently had the pleasure of meeting Jim Olson at a non-museum event where he was invited to speak.

Professor Olson is a Senior Lecturer and Faculty Member at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, where he teaches courses on intelligence, national security, and international crisis management.

Serving for over 25 years in the Directorate of Operations of the Central Intelligence Agency, mostly overseas in clandestine operations, Mr. Olson and his wife appear to be the inspiration for the characters of Ed and Mary Foley in Red Rabbit, a fictional novel of the Cold War era.

His non-fiction text, Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying, has received 4-star ratings and reviews on Amazon as well as a review by his former employer. For the student of intelligence issues, morally challenging scenarios are presented with thought provoking commentary in a highly readable manner.

Jon shares a moment with the author, who received a standing ovation honoring both he and his wife for their service and sacrifice for our country for so many years. Comments and questions from the group of about 500 present expressed strong support for the continued ability of our intelligence, military and law enforcement communities to be able to continue to act effectively to safeguard our country.

In a rare opportunity for a group picture, shown standing left to right are Museum Directors Bud Forester, Phil Davis and Jon Boede with Associates Brent Harvey and Peter Taylor. Seated are Museuem President Bruce Stringfellow and Director R. L. Skinner. Bruce, a graduate of Texas A&M is wearing an appropriate school color for the evening.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sample Nutplates Received

Our friend Bernd found some nutplates for the Cold War Air Museum. MiG-21. They came from a warehouse in former East Germany and we just received samples to evaluate for our project.

He says the guys know they may never repair another MiG (never, ever) but in communist tradition, they must hold on to what they have. Fortunately Bernd can bridge both worlds and was able to charm them into letting us have samples of the parts we may need. With luck, we'll be able to help some budding entrepreneurs find a market for some of their hoarded parts AND get the parts we need. If not, we'll have to implement Plan B (always have a Plan-B).

Capitalism/Communism was portrayed as an either/or -- I win/(you lose) game. The best portrayal of free trade and free enterprise is, that it is a win/win game. If you have what I want and sell it to me, I get what I want and you get what you want. Neither was happy before, both are happy after.

Thanks Bernd! Thanks guys.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A MiG-21's Tail

Recently we have posted a lot of pictures and videos of progress on the MiG-23 (and more will be coming). But our recent work push at the Cold War Air Museum also included the MiG-21 and Helicopters.

After static display at the Warbirds on Parade event, the MiG was put back up on jacks and stands for more work.

The tail (which had only been attached temporarily for the show) came back off so the tailpipe, nozzle and connections could be properly attached.

This time when the tail went back on, all of the hydraulics and electrics were attached and the tailpipe was mated to the roller guides in the aft fuselage with high temperature grease. It should not need to come off again unless a problem turns up in testing.

The working end of the engine appears ready to consume petrochemicals ($$$s) at a prodigious rate.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Feature Associate, Jon Boede

Jon, a director of the museum, kindly consented to be our next video victim, introducing himself and talking about the museum.

Jon served a tour in the U.S. Air Force before becoming a successful businessman and getting involved with CJ's, L39's and the Cold War Air Museum. He is currently working with another museum associate at a day job that involves complex facility planning, graphics and programming.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Badges, Buttons and Ornaments

Russians must love badges and ornaments. Some Western writers will claim that such devices were a means for a repressed people to show expression. In any event, there is a rich assortment of Soviet era badges, lapel pins and metallic devices available to the collector.

I found this cap on the shelf of a gift shop in Sitka. This combination of badges and pins could hardly be representative of anything but a random collection of metallic devices intended to catch the eye of the tourist. As the only reasonably priced item in the shop, this conglomeration soon became a donation to the museum's collection of artifacts. Sitka became the capital of Russian America in 1808 and was the site of the territorial exchange ceremony when the U.S. took possession of "Seward's Folly" in 1867.

Russians will say they love beauty and it is certain that most women seem to appreciate fancy and delicate things more than most men. This watch came from a gift shop in Finland. When I asked to see Russian watches, the storekeeper answered, "why do you want to look at Russian watches, we have the finest Japanese watches available." When I told him that I wanted a Russian watch, he insisted, "but they don't keep time", so I had to explain that I wanted it as jewelry for my wife. "Ah", he said. As the story is told, a lady's watch in Russia is for display, not to tell her the time, as "that is the man's job". The painted decoration and time keeping ability of this watch are true to that heritage.

This post concludes with a bow to the Chang side of the Cold War Air Museum collection. These Mao buttons were purchased some years ago from a brother and sister who had a table at a local people's market. They told me a story of how lucky they were to be there and how hard their parents had worked for them to be able to leave China. When asked about the large collection on display they answered that it was only a small portion of what their parents had, and had sent with them. Every time a new button was minted or a new political commissar came to their village, it was safer to make a "donation" for such buttons (as an expression of their loyalty) than to waste their cash on such frivolous items as food, clothing or oil for their lamps to read at night. Such reading as there was, was strictly for approved study or to memorize passages from "The Little Red Book".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

History of the L-29 in Bulgaria

Given the significant number of L-29s in Lancaster, associated and especially ex-Bulgarian L-29s I thought it would be interesting for everyone to read a bit about the history of the trainer jet in Bulgaria...

It all began in 1963 when a proposal for a new jet trainer was made involving three different designs. The Polish PZL-11 “Iskra”, the Soviet Yak-30 and the Czech L-29 Delfin. It was decided by the “powers that be” that the L-29 would be the future trainer jet for all Warsaw Pact countries. Interestingly enough, Poland still ended up using the “Iskra” which is still in service today under the designation TS-11. Since the L-29 ended up the winner, mass production and deliveries soon began. They began to arrive in Bulgaria in the summer of 1964 and were immediately transferred to Kamenetz airbase, where the command staff of instructors of the 2nd aviation training regiment began to use the new aircraft with the assistance of Soviet instructors. 6 L-29s were delivered by the end of that year with the first with construction number № 491028 and bord number “11” delivered on July 21, 1964. The initial entry into service was with high intensity but went very smooth. On one hand this was due to the excellent preparation of the Bulgarian pilots, having long experience of the relatively sophisticated fighter jets MiG-15 and MiG-17, but another reason was the excellent qualities of the new plane. At the same time the flying school at Dolna Mitropoliya started preparing to be the main airbase that will be operating the L-29. Freshman cadets in 1964 began receiving training to prepare for the new aircraft. This is the first class in the country which began initial study of the L-29. The first flights with cadet pilots using the L-29 began in May 1965 by which time the number of aircraft received increased by another 12 machines. Intensive flights ran from June to October during which time students began to fly alone and perform complex aerobatics. The experience gained after these relatively few hours allowed cadets to begin flying the MiG-15 and MiG-17 in Kamenetz. This first graduating class (class of 1968) is unique in the fact that it was the first class to start training on the L-29. During that time all pilots completed the program successfully with no accidents or crashes and had an average of over 300 flight hours. Eight of the pilots remained to continue their service as instructors of the new aircraft. By this time in 1968 the total number of L-29s in Bulgarian service is 52. The next class marks milestone of L-29 operations in Bulgaria. Cadets underwent theoretical training at Shtraklevo airbase and flight training at Dolna Mitropoliya airbase where they performed flights simulating attack of air targets which is the first time this has been done.

A couple of photos of Bulgarian L-29s pre-1989. Note the stars:

By 1970 the total number of L-29s had reached 82 with 2 squadrons of L-29s at Shtraklevo and another 2 squadrons at Dolna Mitropoliya. As supplies of the Czechoslovak trainer increased this required a greater quantity of instructors and 38 of the 44 pilots of the class of 1970 remained as instructors. This class was the first to perform flights at night in simple weather conditions. At the same time the installation of the first TL-29 simulator was completed at Dolna Mitropoliya airport. The L-29 continued proving itself as an excellent and reliable trainer which provided opportunities for the preparation of cadet pilots for more complex tasks. During the winter of 1971-1972 cadets successfully completed a program involving flying in complicated meteorological conditions (cloud lower limit of 300m(900ft) and visibility 3 km). Additional training was completed in conducting aerial reconnaissance and ground target training using unguided rockets and bombs. This now allowed the L-29s to be used in actual armed conflict, if need be. To increase firing capabilities, attempts were made to mount a 7.62mm machine gun in the bow of the aircraft. The experiment was successful and one L-29 had such weapons, serving for many years for practicing shooting at ground targets.

Bord 78 and 113 both of which were sold to the USA after retirement:

The L-29 fleet was extensively and effectively demonstrated several times on special occasions. The biggest of these was the flight of 63 L-29s in formation on September 9, 1974 during a military parade in Sofia where the party and state leaders watched. The planes in formation spelled out “30 НРБ”. This stood for 30 NRB or 30 Narodna Republika Bulgaria (People's Republic of Bulgaria). The celebration was the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Bulgarian Communist party. In a perfect array, 63 L-29s at a speed of 350 km /h and altitude of 1200m passed over the city center becoming one of the largest shows of Bulgarian air power and putting to shame any formation put on by the Blue Angels. Several other similar formations were done during the years including one which showed "25" instead of "30" on September 9, 1969 but without the "NRB" letters.

Poor quality but interesting photographs of the 63-plane formation spelling out "30 НРБ":

Contrary to what this MAY look like, this is in fact a 21-plane formation of L-29s resembling a rocket and celebrating the first astronaut Yuri Gagarin. April 12, 1974:

The curriculum remained unchanged until 1988 which meant that cadets received about 100-200 hours in the L-29 upon graduation. Additionally the flying school “G.Benkovski” at Dolna Mitropoliya began training pilots for the needs of civil aviation, which also received their initial training of 50 hours on L-29s. Between 1977 and 1995 270 civilian pilots were trained that went on to fly in the national airline “Balkan”. Also between 1979 to 1984, 13 Vietnamese and 18 Nicaraguan pilots were trained on Bulgarian L-29s. L-29s served until they were retired on June 11, 2001 ending an almost 40 year history with the Bulgarian air force. In the 1990s L-29s were dispersed to various airbases besides Shtraklevo and Dolna Mitropoliya. Shtraklevo itself was closed in 1998. Some of these airbases included Balchik, Ravnetz and Dobroslavtzi.

The specially painted L-29s of the aerobatic group formed in the 1990s which performed at various airshows:

During the period between 1964 to 2001 a total of 109 L-29s were delivered with consecutive bord numbers from “11” to “119”. The aircraft had an average of 4000 hours each. The L-29 was extremely reliable and easy to fly as shown by the good safety record. Only 4 airframes were lost during 37 years of extensive operations. The first serious incident was on November 18, 1971. While trying to perform a routine reconnaissance training flight the aircraft descended below the minimum allowed altitude and crashed with the death of both pilots. For the same reason, two instructors were killed on June 14, 1972. One of them is lieutenant Chavdar Djurov the son of the minister of defense. On August 4, 1974 during a formation flight an L-29 piloted by sergeant Stefan Stefanov hit the lead plane. Instead of ejecting, he attempted to fly despite the resulting damage and crashed. In 1979, 1982 and in 1983 there were three registered cases of in- flight engine compressor destruction. In the first case, the debris of the destroyed engine cut the engine controls after take-off at a height of 6 meters and the plane collapsed on the runway breaking in two and catching fire but the pilots were saved. In the latter two cases, the altitude was considerably higher and the pilots used the excellent aircraft aerodynamics to glide to an emergency landing. After retirement, many aircraft ended up being sold to foreign private operators as is the case with many L-29s at Lancaster. Some L-29s became preserved throughout Bulgaria one of them being the first L-29 delivered. Bord 11 can now be seen preserved at the air force museum at Plovdiv airport. Other L-29s have an unknown fate but were probably scrapped.

A short amateur vintage video of the specially painted L-29s performing at an airshow in 1992:

More pictures L29's at Lancaster are being added to the Cold War Air Museum web site.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day

On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, the guns of the "War to End All Wars" fell silent as the armistice ending the First World War was signed in 1918. Originally celebrated as "Armistice Day" in memory of WWI, this day is now celebrated as "Veteran's Day" in America to honor all Veterans who have served in all wars and in peacetime.

This day, November 11th, is also celebrated in many other countries around the world for like reasons even though it may be called by different names. Although our choice of videos and stories is often America-centric, the Cold War Air Museum takes this opportunity to recognize all veterans, of all wars, and of all nations. Our doors are always open to you and your families.

Take time today to think of those who are serving and to thank those around you who have served. And may our special thoughts and prayers be with the men, women and children of our extended military family, both overseas and at home where tragedy recently struck at Fort Hood.

Veteran's Day 2009, may our thoughts and prayers be with you

A special song for Armistice (Veterans) Day
Before leaving our blog today, I want to add a story about a special song. Irving Berlin, a famous American Composer wrote "God Bless America" in 1918, the year of the Armistice, but put it aside at the time. In 1938 with WWII looming on the horizon, the composer, who had a special appreciation for the plight of the Jews in Europe and the freedoms of America, brought forth his song for Kate Smith to perform on National Radio for the Armistice Day program that year.

The Song became an instant hit, a second national anthem for all Americans in the 40's and 50's, a signature song for Kate Smith and for Patriotism. The early days of (black and white) national television coincided with the early days of the cold war and stations would often sign on in the morning with the National Anthem and sign off at night with God Bless America. Such patriotic feelings now seem as rare as those black and white televisions.

All royalties from this patriotic song of just 40 words were assigned to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America by the composer.

We also wish to extend a "thank you" and acknowledgement to the authors of these videos whose credits may be found on YouTube.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bulgarian VVS Photos

Ivan Voukadinov recently visited the Cold War Air Museum and took quite a few pictures. Ivan is from Bulgaria and has kept up with the fate of many of the aircraft that were formerly in BVVS service. He's graciously joined the blog team and agreed to provide some back story on many of the museum's aircraft.

Ivan has already researched and emailed us some photos of our aircraft in Bulgarian service.

More pictures of the museum's aircraft including pictures of the L-39, Mi-2, Mi-24, and MiG-23 have been posted to the museum's Main web site. We hope also to hear stories from some of the pilots and crewmen of these fine machines during their VVS or Bulgarian Air Force days.

Thanks Ivan!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Berlin Wall is Gone

The Cold War Air Museum derives its name from the era between the end of WWII and the breakup of the Soviet Union. In a series of speeches and visits during his second term, American President Ronald Reagan challenged the Soviets to end that era and tear down the physical and trade barriers separating Eastern and Western Europe. Many historians consider the fall of the Berlin Wall as the "beginning of the end" of the Cold War.

Twenty years ago this week, on November 9th, 1989, free travel was again established between the Eastern and Western sectors of Germany. In celebration and remembrance of this event, we offer the following link to President Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg Gate challenging Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War.

President Reagan was one of our most popular and charismatic leaders. This speech is a window on that time. The Cold War Air Museum is seeking items and artifacts of the era for exhibits.

One of our friends "from the other side" sent us this image, to the effect that the wall may be gone but a chasm still remains.

More links to images of the Wall.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MiG-23, Trick and Treat

October 31st, the day these pictures were taken was Halloween or "All Hallows Eve". Kids run around yelling "trick or treat" and expect some candy or they will play a trick on you. Our day started off with a "trick" as soon as we rolled Bord 022, our Cold War Air Museum, MiG-23, out of the hangar.

We told the story previously about all the rain we've had. Some of that rain may have weakened the fill under an area of our ramp, allowing the left wheel to break through the surface. Since this was the same side that sank in the mud earlier, a reader asked if the plane was heavier on that side (No). After lifting the plane and patching the ramp, we were soon again on our way.

With no further problems, Jon "piloted" the bird out to a clear area of the ramp, taking care to place her as far as practical from the most active taxiway and with the blast area directed away from parked aircraft. (Jon, I don't think this counts as "PIC" time).

With the aircraft in a safe area, it was time to give her a "treat", some Jet-A. The massive quantities of liquid hydro-carbons this bird consumes will soon be moving the museum into a whole new area of fuel purchase experience. Note the shadow with the wings full aft!

After a successful start up, all movable control surfaces were exercised. Note the flap and slat deployment. From this angle it is hard to get the full effect of seeing the wings swing. Look at the shadows on the ground to help see the movement from full extension to aft positioning.

With the wings tucked back, it was time to bring up the power. An afterburner run-up is not possible with just brakes and chocks holding the aircraft. The front strut is depressed in this run-up to 100% power, just shy of first-stage afterburner.

After shut down, one of the techs went over to check the tail. Like puppies, everyone else followed.

There must be something fascinating about looking at aircraft tails. At most airshows and at all of our student events, the boys always come around to look. Everyone seems to want to try and figure out how this hole can turn up to $12.00 worth of hydrocarbons into hot air every second. Perhaps they are seeking to understand how a segment of the American economy accomplishes similar (but much more expensive) results without being nearly as entertaining.

Monday, November 2, 2009

MiG-21 Nutplates

Help is needed to locate a source for nutplates for the MiGs!

In an earlier post we talked about the harsh conditions these aircraft lived under and how we had to drill out many of the skin fasteners that had rusted in place.

These fasteners may be called nut plates in the U.S. or anchor nuts overseas, but whatever you call them, the sizes we encounter in the MiGs and Mils do not match current U.S. or European rivet hole spacing. We have tried several different sources with no luck. All say "sure, is no problem" and then send us something they think we want. Our problem is we need "what was", not "what is". We finally talked to a mechanic who told us "Yes, he was sure there was a warehouse full of thousands of what we needed somewhere". But, someone would have to just go around looking until they found what we were looking for.

We were fortunate to find 25 pieces called out as AM5GB630 that were a perfect replacement for the 5mm double lug parts we need. We and our supplier thought that he could get more, but alas that was not to be. It turns out that he had bought a thousand "from a Russian warehouse" several years ago and these were the last 25 of those thousand. When he called back, he found there were no more to be had and now he has an aircraft of his own waiting on these very same parts to be repaired. When we find some, he needs some back!

Here's a challenge for all our Cold War Air Museum readers. Below are pictures and drawings of the parts we. need. Most importantly, we need the 5mm single and double lug non-capped fasteners. If someone knows where fasteners of this vintage can be found we would be very, very grateful. In the same series, we have a lesser need for other sizes as well.

You can contact us by using the comment link below or email us through the contact page on the main museum site. Thank you!

5mm Single Lug, above

5mm Double Lug, above

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it. This Blog will self-erase upon completion of this mission. Cue Theme music here - dum dum, da da, dum dum, de de ... etc.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

MiG Videos, mud run

Our first day out with the Cold War Air Museum, MiG-23, was exciting.

Both for what we expected to go right, like starting the APU and the Engine and testing the hydraulics (wings, controls, etc.) as well as what we didn't expect, like running off the taxiway into the mud.

We are happy to report that there was no damage to the aircraft (or anyone or anything else) and as reported in the previous blog, we had the aircraft out of the mud in relatively short order.

When it comes to building an aircraft and landing gear with the expectation that sooner or later it is going to get stuck in the mud, there are probably no better qualified and experienced design bureaus around!