Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Commemorative Air Force, Arizona Wing, Part 6

There is an old saying "The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys". Here we get to celebrate that. Aren't they cute?

Another historical artifact on display is The New York Times from August 7, 1945 — broadcasting the news that the United States had dropped the first atomic bomb used in war on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It would take another few months to realize the horrific toll in terms of deaths, injuries and sickness. And it would take years to understand the long-term illness brought on from the effects of radiation.

The next display is a Nieuport 17, a French biplane fighter of World War I vintage. It was introduced in 1916 and had outstanding maneuverability, and an excellent rate of climb. Unfortunately, the narrow lower wing, marking it as a "sesquiplane" design with literally "one-and-a-half wings", was weak due to its single spar construction, and had a disconcerting tendency to disintegrate in sustained dives at high speed.

I love the early instrument panel — simplicity itself.

I was also struck by the landing gear. The wheels appear to be smaller and less sturdy than those on my bicycle. If you look at the wheels closely, the indentations in the outer fabric look like the inner spokes of a bicycle wheel. Could be — and it would make sense as a method of reducing weight — and the fabric covering would help reduce wind resistance.

I was also intrigued by the control cables which run outside the fuselage to the control surfaces. It did not take many years of aircraft evolution before the control cables were relocated inside the fuselage before giving way to hydraullic, fly-by-wire and computer controls.

In the next exhibit spot is a Beech C-45 "Expeditor" used as a military transport by the US Army Air Corps and the Navy. It was operational from 1941 until the late 1960s.

One of the interesting aspects of this aircraft is the "taildragger" landing gear. Most of the earliest airplanes used this configuration with landing gear under each wing plus under the tail. Most modern aircraft use "tricycle gear" with landing gear under the nose plus under each wing.

There are advantages to both configurations but my earliest flight in a small private plane was in one equipped with the taildragger configuration. That experience taught me one difference — the taildragger required more skill from the pilot to minimize fishtailing during landing.

Nearby this sign caught my eye...

Which I originally thought was simply a decor item. In fact, if you pass through the door, you find a complete machine shop for repairing and maintaining these vintage aircraft. I would have loved to inspect the machines more closely but was concerned that access to this area was more strictly controlled — not a normal part of the walking tour. Still fascinating even from the entrance.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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