Sunday, August 30, 2009

Experience Counts

A benefit of having an active organization is attracting competent associates.

With over 7,000 hours of Rotary wing time, Pete is valuable not only for his experience but also, like so many of our other volunteers, for his energy and his drive.

Entering service during Vietnam, he has instructed and flown large and heavy helicopters during his Army and Fire service years.

Also with fixed and rotary wing ratings, Mike's service as an Aviator and Helicopter IP was a few years later. He keeps his skill with collective and cyclic, rudder and stick active with his own aircraft on the field..

Born in what is now the Czech Republic, Mike's language skills and contacts in Eastern Europe are an additional benefit for the museum.

We are fortunate to have these and many other fine associates and volunteers helping with the museum.

Pete and Bruce enjoy an after flight review in the Mi-2.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chinook Helicopter

On a recent visit to Alaska, I "caught" this picture of a Chinook.

In a previous post, we explained how U.S. Army helicopters are named for Indian Tribes. The CH-47, "Chinook" is a hard working member of the U.S. Army helicopter inventory.

The Chinook" Salmon is the largest member of the salmon family. Salmon return from the Pacific Ocean to Alaskan streams to spawn and Salmon fishing is an Alaskan industry.

The convention and arts center in Anchorage recently had a contest and display of art objects made from salmon. Titled "Chinook at 14,000 feet", the award winner shown at the start of this article was judged worthy of report in this blog by the Cold War Air Museum associate passing by.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mig-21 Gear Down

We are moving towards having the Cold War Air Museum, Mig21 on static display during the Sept. 5th airport open house.

After attaching the wings, and raising the aircraft, we could work on getting it on the gear.

Jon almost fits under the wing as he checks the tires against the gear. The wheel bearings were removed, cleaned and lubricated before the wheels and tires were mounted.

The tires shipped with Bord 38 show a great deal of wear and will be replaced before the aircraft reaches flight status.

Main gear down, the team is ready to extend the nose gear. Jon studies the cockpit to locate the emergency gear extension pull handle. It is important to identify which Red Handle to pull!

The aircraft stands very high off the ground. This gives clearance both for the large tires used for the main gear and raises the intakes higher above the taxiways and runways to help avoid intake of snow, water and FOD on the bases where these aircraft were originally located.

With the completion of another busy day, the work crew paused for smiles and a picture. The wings will come off at least once more for additional work and a myriad of hydraulic connections remain to be checked and connected before final assembly.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mig-21 Wings On

Visitors want to see our Cold War Air Museum, Mig21 on display.

With the Annual Lancaster Airport event, Warbirds on Parade, coming Saturday, September 5th, we are taking a break from the restoration work to display the aircraft during the event. Attaching the wings and putting it on the gear temporarily gives us a chance to check some of the work we are doing before returning to the job of preparing it for flight status.

Attaching the wings lets us evaluate some of the work we have done and some of the issues we are facing. With the wings attached we can lift the aircraft from the shipping cradle, giving us a chance to drop the gear and look at other areas on the aircraft.

Pulling the shipping cradle out is an event. Because of scheduling issues, the 21 has been in storage longer than any other aircraft in the museum inventory. This is a landmark event for the restoration calendar.

With the aircraft now up on jacks, we can work on getting it on its gear, allowing us to move the aircraft and put it on static display for now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Warbirds on Parade coming Sept. 5th

The annual open house at Lancaster Airport is coming soon.

The Cold War Air Museum will be participating with aircraft flying and on display along with the Commemorative Air Force DFW wing. The airport will also be hosting other aircraft and events.

On event days a shuttle tram operates between the two museums, the restaurant and the parking areas. During the Sept. 5th event, there will be additional parking and aircraft displays on the main ramp.

Check the museum schedule and location page for an aerial view of the airport and parking areas or click here for an area map. Select "get directions" for driving assistance.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hit the silk!

Members of the "Caterpillar Club" are entitled to wear the unique emblem shown below.

Before April 20, 1919 there was no way for a pilot to jump out of a plane and then deploy a parachute. Early parachutes were stored in a canister attached to the aircraft and if the plane was spinning, the parachute could not deploy. Leslie Irvin developed a parachute that a pilot could deploy at will from a back-pack using a rip-cord. Successfully testing his design in April of 1919 (though he broke his ankle during the test), Irvin was the first person to make a premeditated free fall jump from an airplane. He went on to form the Irving Airchute Company which later became Irvin Aerospace.

An early brochure of the Irvin Parachute Company credits William O'Connor on 24 August 1920 at McCook Field near Dayton, Ohio as the first person to be saved by an Irvin parachute. But this feat seemed to go unrecognized. On 20 October 1922 Lieutenant Harold R. Harris, chief of the McCook Field Flying Station, jumped from a disabled Loening W-2A monoplane fighter. Shortly after, two reporters from the Dayton Herald, realizing that there would be more jumps in the future, suggested that a club should be formed. "Caterpillar Club" was suggested because the parachute canopy was made of silk, and because caterpillars have to climb out and fall away to escape their cocoons. Harris became the first member and from that time forward any person who jumped from a disabled aircraft with a parachute automatically became a member. Other famous members include General James Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh and retired astronaut John Glenn.

In 1922 Leslie Irvin agreed to give a gold pin to every person whose life was saved by one of his parachutes. By 1945 the number of members with Irvin pins had grown to over 34,000. In addition to the Irvin Air Chute Company, other parachute manufacturers also issued caterpillar pins for successful jumps. Airborne Systems Canada (formerly Irvin Aerospace Canada) still provides pins to people who made their jump long ago and are just now applying for membership. Another such company is Switlik Parachute Company, which though it no longer makes parachutes, still issues pins.

To become a member - Supply a bonafide account of your bailout.
Mail to: The Caterpillar Club
c/o Switlik Parachute Co. Inc.
PO Box 1328
Trenton, NJ 08607

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mig21, Winging it

Recently we had fun with Jon while showing you some of excellent work by one of our associates recreating a complex piece for the Mig21 leading edge at the Cold War Air Museum. This replacement was driven by our concern for finding and treating corrosion in these older aircraft.

Unfortunately, we occasionally find a problem and then have to deal with it. This particular spot was peaking out at us in an earlier post and when we spotted its sign, we opened up the leading edge of the wing to thoroughly inspect the area. The surface corrosion has been removed in the picture above, so we can see the effect on the remaining metal. This spot is in a short section that joins the leading edge spar of the right wing to the fuselage. While the majority of the metal remains, once the metal structure is corrupted its failure strength becomes an unknown. The safest thing to do is to replace it and that is what our airframe adviser recommended.

Fortunately,part of our critical support system includes access to an excellent aircraft repairman.

Charles is shown here drilling out rivets so the damaged piece can be removed.

The offending piece is shown above, on top of the wing section from which it was removed. Below, it is shown with the replacement piece made by Richard,

After test fitting with the wing mated to its attach points, the piece was given a surface treatment and rivited in place.

After a final coat of paint for additional surface protection, all fittings will be reattached and the wiring harness that ran through the part will be reattached.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Who, among aviation buffs and action fans the world over, could ever forget the exciting scenes of fighter jock icy-calm bravado as pilots repeatedly push their aircraft to the limits in such classic movies as ‘TOP GUN’ and ‘THE RIGHT STUFF?’ Watching those stirring adventures in the wild blue yonder is guaranteed to shoot a Sidewinder missile thrill down the spine of the true fighter movie aficionado.

Of all the ‘tools’ used by the military pilot, perhaps the most glamorous of them all (to the wannabe Tom Cruise) is the flight helmet. Just as in the medieval era, when a knight’s ornately decorated helmet summarily symbolized all of those chivalrous qualities that ennobled him as a fearless fighting man, the protective helmet an aviator wears, visibly sums him up as a card-carrying member of an elite group of fliers.

Each flight helmet visually tells a unique story about the special requirements for pilot safety and protection modern high-performance military aviation has demanded over the years, as the technology of military aviation has continued to advance in quantum leaps.

In the early years of the 1900s through the end of the Second World War, the aviator’s helmet was made of soft (frequently insulated) leather and was intended purely to protect him from the effects of wind and cold. As advances in wireless radio communications developed, the basic leather helmet began to feature earphones for radio receiver headsets; still later, as turbo charging technology permitted higher aircraft operating altitudes, oxygen delivery devices became standard as well. Early eye protection in the form of rubber-framed glass goggles were adopted virtually from the fledgling days of manned flight as the most reasonable way to protect the eyes, especially in the old open-cockpit machines.

With the higher speeds and altitudes permitted by jet engine powered aircraft, more thought began to be given to sparing the pilot from the potential hazards resulting from the substantially increased inertial forces encountered in high-speed jet turbine powered flight. And as the potential for buffeting in jet aircraft cockpits became known, American researchers’ thoughts focused on devising some sort of enhanced protective headgear to protect the contracted civilian flight test pilots who were evaluating the new jets at such secret testing sites as Muroc Field, in the Mojave desert.

The result was a number of what are now called ‘transitional’ helmet designs. These were typically constructed by private aircraft company personnel for their own use and typically incorporated some form of hard protective hemispherical crown attached to the upper hemisphere of the standard soft fabric or leather flight helmet. Examples known to have existed and been used were made from old leather football helmets, phenolic resin miners’ helmets, pith horse polo helmets, and even cork-lined vintage race-car driving helmets.

One such design became known as the “Tanker” interim helmet, which used the compressed fiber top half of the US Army M-1 leather tanker helmet attached to a standard USAAF ANH-15 or A-10A fabric flight helmet; this helmet was used briefly by early USAAF Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star crews in 1946 and 1947. Even as this ‘transitional’ helmet was finding application in the first production USAAF jet, research on hard protective helmets was being conducted by the Air Force’s Wright Patterson Aero Lab and Northrop Aviation’s Dr. Charles Lombard.

Changes in helmet communications system components (earphones, com cords, and connectors) continued to be made throughout the 1949 to 1960 period.

One especially interesting concept developed in the 60s period was the so-called 'clam-shell' design. Technically known as the US Air Force HGU-15/P 'Windblast Helmet' (USAF version) and the US Navy AOH-1 / HGU-20/P (US Navy version), and developed as an integrated head protective unit with oxygen breathing system built in, the 'clam-shell' featured a two-part shell that opened and shut like a marine bi-valve's shell. It featured a swivel actuated face visor, with separate articulated sun shade, it looked very much like the conventional pressure helmet used during this time (viz. the Navy's Mk. IV full pressure helmet assembly of the early 60s). While the windblast protection afforded by the whole-head encasing clam-shell helmet design in emergency high speed ejection was excellent (it was intended for principal use in the Air Force’s new Convair F-106 Mach 2 interceptor), there were also aspects of the design that were found to be operationally awkward (especially for high-G air combat situations). These included substantial weight of the assembly (bearing down disagreeably on the wearer's spine in high negative-G maneuvers and turns), fouling of the chin-piece on parachute harness hardware, lack of adequate peripheral fields of vision, and lastly, a tendency to fog up and become opaque.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Test Pilots

Members of the DFW CAF Wing visited us during a test run of their latest transportation equipment. Some things can be explained, but for other things only a picture will do.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cold War Air Museum Brochure - Side 2

The Cold War Air Museum will soon be reprinting, and possibly revising, its brochures. The "inside" pages of the current brochure are shown below.

These pages are colorful and interesting, providing scenes and stories from the four decades of history covered by the Cold War period. Sharing this brochure with our web visitors is part of extending the physical presence of the museum to the web and an invitation to share ideas on how to improve our message or graphics in our next generation printing.

Covered in the previous blog piece, Cold War Air Museum - Side 1, the outside pages of the brochure speak to the museum's mission, patriotic values we celebrate as part of that mission and our location.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cold War Air Museum Brochure - Side 1

The Cold War Air Museum will soon be reprinting, and possibly revising, its brochures. The "outside" pages of the current brochure are shown below.

These pages are colorful and provide information about the museum's mission, important patriotic values that we appreciate and celebrate as part of that mission and where we are located. Sharing this brochure with our web visitors is part of extending the physical presence of the museum to the web and an invitation to share ideas on how to improve our message or graphics in our next generation printing.

The inside pages of the brochure include pictures and snippets of history from the cold war era and are displayed in the next blog piece, Cold War Air Museum - Side 2.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Davy Crockett! - King of the wild frontier.

Those of us that remember both the Army newsreels and the Walt Disney movies of the 1950's, recognize the juxtaposition of a line from a popular kid's jingle and the name of a fearful nuclear weapon.

Based on recoilless rifle designs of WW2. This weapon was the smallest nuclear delivery system publicized and distributed in quantity during the cold war.

As the threat of Soviet invasion loomed over Europe, US Army officials decided they needed a tool for halting – or at least delaying – the endless column of troops and tanks expected to pour through the Fulda gap. At seventy-six pounds, thirty-one inches long and eleven inches in diameter, it vaguely resembled a watermelon with fins. When attached to its launching rod, the munition was perched on a firing tube of 4" or 6" diameter, giving it a range of one to two and a half miles. Serviced by a three man squad, each of these mutually-assured-destructive devices could be launched from a jeep, personnel carrier or even a man-portable tripod.

The Atomic Battle Group was charged with the protection of Europe between 1961 and 1971, and during those years 2,100 of the Davy Crockett Weapons Systems were created. In the event of a Soviet invasion, elite squads would deploy in the path of advancing formations. A flurry of mathematics would provide the trajectory and flight time to the target and a test shot from the integrated 37mm spotting gun would verify the calculations before a timer on the warhead was set to detonate the weapon roughly twenty feet above the target with a yield of ten or twenty tons of conventional explosive.

Even with the help of the spotter gun, accuracy was limited and detonation might be several hundred feet from target (a catch phrase of the era was "close doesn't count, except with horseshoes, hand grenades and nuclear weapons"). While the weapon's relatively small yield limited its physical damage (by comparison to other nukes of the day), its tendency to spew radiation made up for its shortcomings as an explosive. Any person within a quarter-mile faced almost certain death, even behind the armor of a main battle tank.

The minimum time delay setting provided for a distance of about 1,000 feet, but a detonation that close (or a malfunction) would almost certainly result in the death of the firing team.

As with all recoilless and rocket weapons, the exhaust zone behind the launcher was a danger zone as well. It was a fear-inspiring weapon indeed.

In addition to being the smallest nuclear device announced by the United States, the weapon also had the distinction of being the last atomic device tested by the US in the open atmosphere.