Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Wings Over Miami Air Museum, Part 1

During one of my recent visits to Florida, my dad and I visited the Wings Over Miami Air Museum located at Kendall-Tamiami Airport just west of Miami. A big part of our interest is related to my dad's service in the Army Air Corps where he was in training as a pilot at the end of World War II. Fortunately, for both of us, the war ended before he completed training. He trained in a PT-26 so naturally we were looking for similar aircraft to stimulate his fading memory.

Until 1939, the Army Air Corps used biplanes for training. In 1940, the Army ordered a batch of single-wing aircraft that were designated as the PT-16. The aircraft was so successive that the Army ordered newer versions such as the Ryan PT-22 "Recruit" seen here.

The museum has an eclectic mix of aircraft in its collection. This is a replica of Alberto Santos-Dumont's Demoiselle (Damselfly). It is a light-weight monoplane with wire-braced wing mounted atop an open framework fuselage.

Can't you just imaging the pilot with goggles and headgear climbing aboard, fastening the safety harness while an assistant pulls the propeller to start the engine? I sure can.

It very much reminded me of modern ultralight aircraft used primarily for recreation flying.

At the other end of the aircraft power spectrum is this F-14D. Made by Grumman for the Navy, the F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin-engine, two-seater with variable-sweep wings. Per Wikipedia, "The F-14 first flew in December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy's primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor and tactical reconnaissance platform. In the 1990s it added the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system and began performing precision ground-attack missions. The Tomcat was retired from the active U.S. Navy fleet on 22 September 2006, having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. As of 2012, the F-14 was only in service with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, having been exported to Iran in 1976 when the U.S. had amicable diplomatic relations with the then government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi."

Since this aircraft is no longer used by the Navy, I can now reveal the secret to its effectiveness. If an enemy pilot approached close enough to read the nicknames of the Pilot and Radar Intercept Officer, they would be laughing so hard that they would not be able fire their weapons before the F-14D fired theirs.

Next is another trainer albeit an advanced trainer, the AT-6F used by both the Army Air Corps and the Navy. It was nicknamed "the pilot maker" because of its important role in preparing pilots for combat.

As of 1940, the required number of flight hours for combat pilots to earn their wings had been cut to only 200 within a seven-month training period. Of that 75 were logged in the AT-6.

This aircraft featured a 550-hp Pratt & Whitney R1340-AN1 radial piston engine. It produced a maximum speed of 205 mph. The AT-6 was retired from active duty by the U.S. at the end of the 1950's. Several nations such as Brazil, China and Venezuela continued to use it as their basic trainer well into the 1970's.

BTW, you don't have to look too closely to notice the photographer reflected in the well-polished propeller cone.

Regardless of the specs, I think I found the reason that the men of the armed forces liked this aircraft.

This is a slighter newer version of the above, an AT-6G which flew from the U.S.S Saratoga. Interestingly, during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, these planes were pressed into combat service as forward air control aircraft. The were nicknamed T-6 "Mosquitos".

One little piece of trivia that I learned this week: Every plane has an ID number painted on the fuselage or the tail (actually, I already knew that). If you perform a Google search on the ID, you will find information about that specific plane. Try it — this one's ID is N888WV.

To be continued.


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com