Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Charge of the not-so-light brigade

When the Mi2 goes out for a test flight, it is usually accompanied by a ground crew (seen here in the background).

While another crew was the subject of an earlier post, everyone piled on today and the taxiing Mi2 managed to stay ahead on the way to the hanger.

George supervised both the helicopter and cart crew. Fortunately the Mi2 is set up to accommodate our diligent observer.

George's cousin, Gunner.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CJ6, Take Two

We often have two CJ's going to events together. That always makes a special hit and people love to ask questions about them. This CJ is also the second CJ to belong to this particular owner.

While it is sometimes confused with the Russian Yak 18 and that lineage has been debated. The Nanchang CJ-6 should be recognized as an indigenous Chinese design. It's predecessor, the Nanchang CJ-5, was a Yak-18 design built under license.

When advances in pilot training brought a need for a new aircraft with improved performance and tricycle landing gear, the PLAAF (Peoples Liberation Army Air Force) engineers brought the CJ6 to life. Featuring an aluminum semi-monocoque fuselage with flush-riveting throughout and a modified Clark airfoil with pronounced dihedral in the outer sections, the design was transferred to the Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing factory in May of 1958 and the first prototype flew on August 27th the same year.

Initially, production aircraft were equipped with the Housai HS-6 radial engune, a locally manufactured version of the Soviet AI-14 260 hp radial. In 1965 the HS-6 engine was upgraded to 285 hp and redesignated the HS-6A. Equipped with the new engine, the aircraft became the CJ-6A. Total production is estimated at more than 10,000 aircraft including exports worldwide. As of 2007, the Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company was still manufacturing the CJ-6G, a modernized version featuring increased power, a strengthened fuselage, bigger fuel tanks, and other modifications. For CJ-6A flight characteristics and other specifics, click on the museum web page link at the end of this post.

The CJ-6 makes extensive use of pneumatics to control the gear, flaps and brakes as well as to start the engine. An engine driven air-pump recharges the system, if air pressure drops too low to start the engine, the on-board tank must be recharged from an external source. In sub zero climates, air start was more reliable than battery starting an engine. Most of the former soviet aircraft at the museum share an extensive use of pneumatics.

This CJ-6A is currently flying and often used in flyovers, formation flights and aerobatic training. It carries on the tradition of the Nanchang CJs by being reliable and ready to fly at a moments notice. It is shown below exchanging lead in a formation flight during the Lone Star Red Star fly-in and formation clinic last year.

"Bord LN" was recently restored and painted at Long's Aircraft Service in Coleman, Texas. Randy also restored the Fouga CM-170 located at the museum for another previous owner. Randy based the paint scheme for this CJ on a T-34 he saw at a Navy Base in Florida. That T-34 was used to clear an aerial gunnery range before practice and the Commander (not to mention the pilot) wanted a high visibility paint scheme so the aircraft could be seen in case the live fire exercise was started before the aircraft left the range.

For more information and pictures go to the museum's CJ-6A web page. For related posts, click a label below.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mi-24 Work Day - another view

In a previous Mi-24 story, we showed Bord 120 being topped off with the repaired transmission. The video below is a composite of still frames taken from start to finish on that work day. Enjoy!

One frame was taken every 30 seconds... so each second of video is about 15 minutes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Smoke on

A Smoke system adds visual impact by leaving a trail of smoke behind the aircraft.

Although not normally used on the ground, Jon demonstrates the smoke system on Bord LN as he taxis past the museum.

Smoke is generated on props and jets by injecting a light weight oil, "smoke oil", into the exhaust. The oil is stored in a separate tank and an electric pump is used to spray the oil into the exhaust stream. Viewers generally enjoy the smoke and it can be especially effective when used in certain maneuvers such as the "Missing Man" formation. It is more difficult to generate a smoke trail from a helicopter because the big fans on top and at the tail tend to blow the smoke in different directions.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Base Jumping

Museum aircraft selection involved visits to a number of different bases.

In many cases, we were able to pre-screen aircraft that we wanted to see. But old fashioned "Mark-1" eyeballs were used to make the final decisions.

Seeing the array of hardware that was ready to go to war provokes strong feelings and memories for the generations that grew up in the era. We hope a sense of history and understanding passes to the generations that follow.

Because aircraft of different types (and sometimes aircraft of the same type) were stored at different bases, the group had to go from base to base around the country. Because travel time took away from inspection time, the trips between bases were often made in a hurry. Texans, used to large SUV's on super-highways found themselves crammed into smaller vehicles on smaller roads. While perhaps luxurious by local standards, the travel accommodations had them asking "are we there yet?".

The array of hardware was impressive. On the first visit, a base commander was reluctant to agree to the release of even a single aircraft. By the last visit, positions and responsibilities had changed and any and all were available (at a price).

Bord 122, in a field with sister ships was our first choice. Unfortunately, this was the unit that was damaged upon arrival.

The tallest member of the group, in the foreground, suffered patiently, folding himself back into the car as the group jumped from base to base.

And they drove,

and drove,

sometimes passing sights that were intriguing, wishing there was more time to stop and visit. The countryside was beautiful and the people were polite and curious about the visitors that were interested in their country and their aircraft.

On some bases, aircraft were still in bomb-proof revetments, poised as if they were still on the ready line.

The museum's Mig-21, Bord 38 is shown here as first seen during one of the base visits.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Hoplite

In the NATO naming convention for Soviet equipment, all helicopter names start with the letter "H". The NATO code name for the Mi-2 helicopter is "Hoplite". A Hoplite was an armed citizen-soldier of the ancient Greek City-States.

In the last century, WW1 was a remarkable example of "static" warfare. Major armies spent years slugging it out between trenches only hundreds of yards (meters) apart. By contrast, WW2 was a war of mobility. From the German Blitzkrieg to Patton's relief of the siege at Bastogne, the Eighth Air Force or the massive fleets and landings in the Pacific, the world had never before seen such massive movement of men and machines.

While helicopters embodied man's earliest dream of taking off directly into flight, as a bird can, or an angel might, they are very complex. Useful machines did not enter service until after the huge technical advances of WW2. With helicopters, the cold war extended the concept of mobility on the ground or sea into a third dimension, air-mobility.

Early development began before WW2. In the U.S. a Russian émigré, Igor Sikorsky produced the first practical machines. In Russia, Mikhail Mil became the recognized leader and received his own design bureau. In the Soviet Union, 95% of all helicopters were designed by the Mil Design Bureau and helicopters there were often simply called "Mils". In the U.S. we shorten the designation of design and type, such as Mil-2 to Mi-2 or popularize the NATO designator such as "Hind" (Mi-24).

The first prototype of the Mi-2 flew in 1961 and it is generally considered to be the USSR's answer to the US Bell UH-1 "Huey". Production was licensed to PZL-Swidnik in Poland in 1965 and more than 5500 were produced. Like the Bell "Huey" it has been adopted all over the world. Countries operating the Mi-2 are shown in red above.

As a utility transport, the Mi-2 can carry eight passengers plus the pilot or more than 1,500 pounds (700 kilos) of cargo internally or externally. It can be fitted with a door winch for Search and Rescue. In a medical evacuation role, it can carry four stretchers and a medical attendant and in the agricultural role it can be fitted with a hopper on each side carrying dry chemicals or liquids.

An Mi-2 is shown here in Iraq in an agricultural sprayer configuration. Like the Huey, the Mi-2 performs well in both its citizen and soldier roles and the designator "Hoplite" seems appropriately fitting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bord 211 - Backstory

There is a background story to each of the aircraft at the museum.

The background story for Bord 211 begins with preliminary visits and negotiations in Bulgaria in 2004.

211 was one of a number of Mi2's that were stored on a portion of one of the bases that was visited. Here she is shown with some of her sister ships. Three others in this picture, 212, 213 and 214 are now undergoing restoration. Museum associates visited many bases and looked at many aircraft trying to make the best selection possible given the circumstances in each situation.

Each of the aircraft in Eastern Europe had to be disassembled and crated for shipping. As they arrived they had to be cleared through customs, brought to the airport, unloaded and stored, as the Museum facilities had not yet been completed. Here one of the Mi-2's is shown on its shipping cradle in intermediate storage. There were many steps along the way before assembly could begin and there are many more stories to tell. More details and back-stories about our aircraft will be covered in future posts.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


The American Veteran Traveling Tribute (AVTT) recently came to the nearby suburb of DeSoto.

The outdoor exhibit features a replica of the Permanent Vietnam Memorial located in our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. "The Wall" contains the names of American combatants who lost their lives in that conflict.

Many come to the wall to find the names of loved ones, friends or relatives and spend a moment in thought or peaceful reflection. Parents brought their children or grandchildren to show them and explain to them what this meant and local school districts included the event in their programs.

On the morning of the event, the planes were cleaned and prepped for show. The weather was not co-operative, with low ceilings that did not lift for a fly-over until mid afternoon.

The Cold War Air Museum and The Commemorative Air Force joined in support of this remembrance with a fly-over by aircraft of both museums. The CAF also manned an area where visitors could stop and receive information and museum brochures. As a result, a number of new visitors came to the airport and visited both museums. The tarp on the ground is to keep visitors from sinking into the mud. It had rained heavily the day before and sprinkled throughout the morning. Shortly after this picture, the City promised to bring out hay and spread it on the park grounds to help deal with the mud. Thanks to Steve and Shirley, and all the others who helped with the event!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mighty Mini-Mule

The downside to confessing one's sins on a blog is that there are so many helpful "friends" around the world that are only too happy to assist you in fully understanding the full scope and detail of how you've screwed up. How not only the specific thing you've done is wrong, but macroscopically, how your whole approach is less than bright.

My friend Bernd made this placard for me... with "best regards from Germany". The worst of it is, as safety officer for the museum, I have to agree that it's probably a pretty good idea!

He points out that a large mule is not necessary and that this 24 volt mule meant for the Mi-24 will work just fine on the L-39 (and probably not make a hydraulic lake on the hangar floor).

I like it, but I worry that if this thing ever went through an x-ray machine, we'd be detained by the TSA for having a nuclear suitcase bomb.

With friends like this... :-) Still, over the weekend of May 2nd we're meeting up with Bernd at the music festival in Bautzen near his home town. If someone has a Russian nuclear radiation sticker I can slip on his mule while he's not looking, please contact me!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ready to start hopping

Hard work really does pay off.

In anticipation of receiving our airworthiness certificate last week, we were busy checking and testing systems on Mi-2, Bord 211. So busy in fact, that we are just now catching up with this posting about getting ready.

Zach and the techs gave the entire airframe and especially the engine compartment a good looking over.

Zach and Tracie, both experienced Rotary Wing Associates, used checklists to make sure nothing was overlooked in systems checkout.

After extensive work and preparation, our application to the FAA for an Airworthiness Certificate for our Mi-2, Bord 211 was granted and the aircraft is now licensed in the Experimental Exhibition category. After flying off our test program, we expect to be taking the newest flying member of the museum to several airshows and events this summer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Canine command helps out

Some dogs seem to take on the personalities of their owners.

George is a hard worker, he is always ready to go and wants to be involved. Here he is watching from the museum office waiting for his chance to get started with the day's activities.

And there is something about riding in the carts that dogs and kids, even us big kids enjoy.

George's friend Wolfie comes out to the airport occasionally to help out as well.

Wolfie is an experienced passenger in small aircraft, but his favorite question is, "are we there yet?"

George and Brad are about to take the Mi-2, Bord 211, out for a walk.


In the movies, Indiana Jones has a common theme that runs through his adventures. "Snakes!" he says with a mix of angst and disgust, "Why does it always have to be snakes?!"

While adventures at the museum are infinitely2 more mundane, I seem to have developed a similar lament. "Hydraulic Fluid!" I seem to be constantly saying, "Why does it always have to be hydraulic fluid?!" Whether it's sumping struts, messing with the mule, or showering in it when changing filters, it seems like this slippery, red, sweet-smelling juice is always the rain on my parade.

Getting an L-39 ready for its annual inspection requires getting it up on jacks. I could have predicted that wasn't going to go as planned. I pumped one of the jacks right and it went up a little... then I pumped it left and it went back down. Do what? What's to go wrong with a jack? Well, it turns out not much... but just enough to get me and the hangar floor covered in hydraulic fluid.

The valves on the jack are a typical Eastern Bloc design. Simple, ingenious, rugged, and made with as much off-the shelf components as possible. In this case, a small bearing (i.e. a readily available, precisely-made component) sits on top of a valve seat, a little cap sits on top of that, and it's all held down with a spring.

Except in this case, rough handling of the jack had gotten the cap/bearing/spring mechanism all cattywhompus. Fixing it meant draining the jack, fishing out the parts, dropping them back into place carefully and filling the jack back up. With hydraulic fluid, of course.

The best part is bleeding the air out of the jack. For that the 135lb+ jack has to be balanced on its head and a small needle valve backed off until air and hydraulic fluid, of course, goes spraying all over the place. I've gotten myself covered in the stuff often enough that I now have an allergic reaction to it. I make a special point of trying to avoid touching my face when my hands have been soaking in it, although I always manage to do that anyway.

I've found that if I clean up with Goop hand cream before I've marinated too long and then wash up with soap and water eventually, I can avoid most of the ill effects. Except on my face — I'm doomed to getting a rash there no matter what I do.

It could be worse, I guess... at least it's just 5606 and not Skydrol, which is what the airlines use... that stuff starts to slowly eat your skin on contact.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taking Bord 120 out for the day

We are still working on the logistics of arranging the aircraft both for display and easy access in and out of the hangers for flight. Our Mi-24, Bord 120 is shown leaving the hanger before engine and transmission run-up testing. We know from experience with Bord 118 that this will be more challenging once we reinstall the main rotor and tail rotor blades. The following video makes it look easy (with no blades and everything else out of the way).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bord 120, Engine Reinstallation

After the transmission repair on Mi-24 Bord 118, it was necessary to put everything back in its place. A frequent visitor walked in, looked around and said "I can tell you're making progress. The pile of parts on the floor is getting smaller."

The transmission was set in a cleaned compartment and all mechanical and hydraulic systems were reconnected.

Then the engines were reinstalled. Everything is cleaner and shiner now than when we started, making it easier to work on and ensure that everything is in ship-shape condition.

Completing the process was an actual engine run and spin up of the unit. The original video shows a smoothly spinning rotor. Because of variations in download speed and machine speeds, videos can appear jerky when replayed on a computer. If the rotor hub appears stationary or "jerky" on your computer, it is an artifact of the computer replay.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Local Boy Scouts Visit

A local troop of Boy Scouts visited the museum last Saturday.

We are always happy to work with Community youth and School organizations. We started the group with a short introduction to the cold war era, then telling them about the museum and our planes.

Then we took a tour of aircraft "close up" and answered questions. Perhaps one of these young men will grow up to be an aviator or aircraft engineer. And we hope this will help them have more interest in school when the teacher talks about modern history.

Cold War Air Museum - Getting more visitors

We are pleased that our web following continues to evolve and grow. Our visitor maps, like this one, show a constantly changing pattern formed by our last 100 visitors.

Short term "hit" data helps us see the popularity of our most recent posts. By providing a mix of topics, stories and authors, we intend to reach out to a larger and more diverse audience. When we concentrate too long on one topic, we tend to see the viewership drop off. So when we have a long running series about a topic, we will start to try to mix in some posts on other items of interest. If you find a post on a particular day boring, please come back and try again tomorrow. Or, leave a helpful comment about what you would like and how we can improve our web experience. And, if you have information or a story that is relevant, please send us an email and let us know.

Our other graphic shows a week's worth of recent visitors by region. Click on the image to see a larger, more readable copy. Visitors came from 30 different countries and within the U.S. from 32 different states.

Many "hits" are a single individual, from a single city or country. We are glad you came to visit and hope you'll come again, but please tell a friend about us as well. There is nothing we would like more than to see both of you come see us next time.

Thanks, for visiting, and come again!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bluebonnet Air Show

Despite a low overcast ceiling, the Bluebonnet Air Show in Burnet, TX was a resounding success. Jon took CJ-6A bord LN out to the show and was joined in formation by Mile's CJ, 7NF. The show featured a demonstration by the USAF West Coast A-10 team, parachute jumpers, and a large number of WWII warbirds. A P-40 can be seen in the background between the two Changs.

The CAF squadron at Burnet was kind enough to fill up the smoke tank on bord LN, some of which may even be left when Jon gets back to Lancaster. :-)

Of course, one of the biggest reasons to go to air shows is for the junk food. Bluebonnet did not disappoint. Here, Jon is seen participating in that age-old tradition.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kick the Tires and Light the Fires (Not)

In Texas, there is an old saying, "If you don't like the weather, just wait and it will change." While I suspect that many other places have the same saying, it is certainly true here, where the land is very flat and weather can quickly blow in from great distances.

When the seasons change, it is not unusual for the temperature (day to day high, or low) to change by as much as 22C (40F). The day we flew to Gainesville for the MOH parade, we had a 60mph tailwind from the South (at altitude) and by afternoon it was "short sleeve" weather. In this picture, one day later, we had 30+ mph winds at the surface, from the North and it was cold.

Knowing Jon, I am sure he is thinking to himself, "I moved to Texas to get away from this".

The saying "kick the tires and light the fires" Is a reference to the poor habit of cursorily checking an aircraft, then hopping in and starting the engine(s) to go flying. While this may work for cars, where you can pull over to the side of the road if something goes wrong, it is not recommended for a long and successful flying career. The Mi-24, because of its size and complexity, is very much a crew-served aircraft. Before each operation a number of items must be serviced and checked.

When the aircraft was parked the day before, it was facing South, into the wind. Before starting on this day, it had to be moved around to again face into the wind, this time to the North.

One advantage to the Mi-24's size is the availability of the crew compartment. With the wind blocked off by the fuselage and with fresh hot coffee available, the crew takes a break before "lighting the fires"

The purpose of this test run was to check that both generators would come on line together. A faulty circuit breaker had been identified and replaced. The repair was a success.

The "Gate Guardian", Bord 122 can be seen at the North end of the airport behind Bord 118.