Midland Texas, September 28th - October 2nd
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The following is a personal account of my time at the air show- images and story by Max Haynes.
Being a new member of the CAF I didn't know quite what to expect when I arrived in the Midland/Odessa area for AIRSHO 2005. To be honest, my first impression was, 'Wow, what a huge population and infrastructure for a place out in the middle of nowhere!' I quickly grew to enjoy the special qualities of West Texas and the friendly people. I came down 4 days before the show to work on a new book about warbirds that I've been commissioned to do by Motorbooks. The CAF and it's huge collection of warbirds would be the centerpiece of my book.
The Headquarters of the CAF is very nice and has a forties feel to it. The offices and meeting rooms ajoin an even nicer space where the PX store is and the American Air Power Museum.
I wandered around a bit and walked into the main hangar to find our huge B-29 "Fifi" in restoration mode. Crew Chief Gary Austin was giving a tour to a group so I tagged along and learned a great deal.
"Fifi" was found to have some serious corrosion problems in various areas but a year's worth of restoration meant some areas were already back together like the nose section shown here.
Looking through these windows for hours on end seems like it would take some getting used to!
The plane was a bee hive of activity as volunteers worked to clean her up for the airshow and continue the restoration work.
Outside, other planes were going through procedures to determine their air-worthiness. Crew Chief Vladimir Yastremski fired up the Polikarpov and taxied the plane around to test oil pressure and other elements of the engine's health.
A mostly imported crew from Great Britain removed the radar housing on the chin of the Shackleton for inspection. They had come over a month before to get the plane in working order for the air show.
The Shackleton, a British bomber, features contra-rotating props for more thrust.
The CAF's very first acquistion, the P-51 called "Red Nose" pulled in with pilot Stan Musick and crew chief Mark Schmidt. They had just arrived from the Dixie Wing out of Atlanta. Over the next few days planes from all over the country would be flying in for the show.
Some of the very first to arrive were Pat McClure in the P-64 and Bill Sugarak and Lenny Shores in the "Kate" Japanese torpedo bomber. Here was my chance to not be so shy and introduce myself to some pilots.
Pat McClure rubbed down the surface of the plane to clean up oil and exhaust marks before leaving the plane for the night. He invited me to show up before dawn the next morning to ride over to a nearby airport for the TRARON where pilots would train for formation flying. I was going to get my first chance of the week at air to air photography!
I wandered around for a while longer and watched the sun go down and the light in the hangar space change.
Lenny Shores piloted the P-64 while Pat McClure flew the Kate with me in the back, doing what I love best, flying along in an open cockpit plane taking pictures. It was not ideal light for picture taking but a great morning for flying!
Lenny Shores on the left joins a group of other pilots for a lengthy session on the dos and don'ts of formation flying. Safety is paramount for this sort of flying.
The sessions took place in the hangar of the Desert Squadron, the nicest hangar facility I've ever seen. These folks did it up right.
On the way back I hitched a ride with Doug Matthews in the Dixie Wing of the CAF's Dauntless Dive bomber and photographed the unique wings with their air brakes that are deployed during the dive to stabilize the speed and are retracted after the bombs are released so the aircraft can make a speedy getaway.
I was lucky enough to go up a third time that day as a passenger in a formation of three SNJs.

And lucky for me the cameraship was the Dauntless so I could get air to air pictures of it as well.

Later that evening the Polikarpov went up for a test flight piloted by Carter Teeters.

A few of the Oil Crew gathered for a quick picture before getting back to their busy job of making sure each plane had everything it needed.