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Commemorative Air Force, Arizona Wing, Part 1

Located at Falcon Field Airport in Mesa, AZ, the Commemorative Air Force, Arizona Wing maintains an exhibit of aircraft, most of it military and primarily dating to World War II. The key difference between CAF and most aircraft museums is that the members restore and maintain the aircraft in flight-worthy condition. In fact, you can even sign up to ride in one of the planes. Even if you do not take a flight, you can enjoy simply viewing these magnificently restored flying machines.

The first aircraft I encountered was a Stinson SR-10, the civilian version of the AT-19, which was used by the military from 1935 to 1945. The U.S. Army Air Corps used it as a light passenger transport, instrument trainer and photo-reconnaissance aircraft.



Stinson Aircraft Company was founded in 1920 and produced a number of early planes before being acquired by series of corporations after the death of its founder, Eddie Stinson.


This particular plane was produced in 1938. Love the instrument panel.


Of a more recent vintage is this MiG-21PF supersonic all-weather interceptor, produced from 1959 to 1985 by the then Soviet Union. According to Wikipedia, "Early versions are considered second-generation jet fighters, while later versions are considered to be third-generation jet fighters. Some 50 countries over four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations a half-century after its maiden flight. The fighter made aviation records. At least by name, it is the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history and the most-produced combat aircraft since the Korean War, and it had the longest production run of a combat aircraft".



The MiG-21PF was powered by a 12,676 pound thrust turbojet engine with afterburners. It could reach a maximum speed of Mach 2.1 at 36,000 feet.

This display aircraft has the markings of the Hungarian Air Force.


Sitting next to the MiG is a GE J-47 turbojet engine. It weighs some 2,700 pounds and produces 5,670 pounds of static thrust. It has been used in many aircraft such as:

    • Boeing B-47 Stratojet
    • KB-50J Superfortress
    • KC-97L Stratotanker
    • Chase XC-123A
    • Convair B-36
    • Convair NB-36
    • Curtiss XF-87 Blackhawk
    • Martin XB-51
    • North American B-45 Tornado
    • North American F-86 Sabre
    • North American F-86D Sabre
    • North American FJ-2 Fury
    • Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor


What fascinates me is all the parts to a jet engine. In principle, a jet engine is fairly simple — but look at all those wires, tubes, boxes, canisters, etc.!


Of course, not all aircraft have big powerful engines — this Schweizer TG-3A is a dual-control training glider. Initially, it was used to train pilots for the Waco CG-4 gliders, which were used to transport troops (max. 13) and their equipment. C-47s were usually used as tow aircraft for the latter. These gliders were used from 1942 until the early 1980s.


As I gazed up at the TG-3A, my mind wondered to the glider flight I experienced on Maui nearly two years ago. Actually, that was in a powered glider — the engine was used to get us to altitude (some 10,000 feet) then was shut down. Without the noise of the engine, all you hear is the rush of the wind.

On my flight the views were incredible — the peak of Haleakala all the way down to the Hana Coast. if you ever have an opportunity to take a glider flight, do it. You will cherish the memory of that flight forever.

To be continued...

Life is good.

Aloha,
B. David

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