Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Classic Aircraft 12/2011

Alex Henshaw Jnr unveiled newly-rebuilt Comper CLA7 Swift G-ACGL, once owned by his late father, at the RAF Museum Cosford on 3 November. The 35th of 41 examples built, the diminutive single-seat racer was the last British-registered Swift produced at Hooton Park, Cheshire and was purchased by Alex Henshaw Snr in June 1933. Flying one of seven Swifts competing at the King's Cup meeting at Hatfield the following month, 19-year-old Henshaw won the Siddeley Challenge Trophy race in 'CGL. After failing to reach Cairo to take part in the Oases Rally in December 1933 he sold the Swift three months later. Unlike most of the type G-ACGL was flown by a succession of owners including Arwork Ltd at Heston and David Lloyd at Castle Bromwich, concluding with Edmund Bradley at Kinver, South Staffordshire in 1939. Its certificate of airworthiness lapsed in March 1940 and it is believed to have been scrapped at Kinver in 1942. During the early 1960s it was reported that some parts survived including G-ACGL's wings and various small components. Ten years later they were acquired by Stan Brennan from Eric Holden, the manager at Castle Bromwich Airfield.

Classic Aircraft 11/2011

WITH THE promise of virtually ideal weather and a new Unlimited Class qualifying speed record of 499.160mph by two-time Unlimited National Champion Steven Hinton, Jr at the controls of Bill Tiger' Destefani's P-51D Mustang Strega, the 48th Annual Reno National Championship Air Races at Stead Field in Nevada on 14-18 September had tremendous potential. However, this year's event came to an abrupt and tragic end at approximately I6.24hrs local on Friday 16 September. Steve Hinton, Sr (himself a two-time Unlimited National Champion) at the controls of the T-33 pace plane proudly led the starting field 'down the chute' with his son and the rest of the Unlimited Gold Class competitors off his right wingtip for the beginning of the day's final event, a Gold Heat Race. Qualifying speeds and finishing orders during preliminary heat races determine the staring order of Sunday's final Unlimited Gold National Championship Race. As expected, Steven Hinton, Jr jumped off to an immediate and commanding lead, with Will Whiteside in P-51 D Mustang Voodoo, Stewart Dawson in F8F-2 Bearcat Rare Bear, Jimmy Leeward in P-51 D Mustang The Galloping Ghost and the rest of the field in tow.

Classic Aircraft 10/2011

As briefly reported last month, Karl Kjarsgaard's organisation HP57 Rescue (Canada) has successfully imported the remains of two Handley Page Hastings transports into Canada. This is an exciting development, as the Hastings' wings are nearly identical to those of the type's sister, the Halifax. The parts recovery makes the recreation of not just one, but hopefully two Handley Page Halifax bombers a distinct possibility. Karl has the pedigree to make this happen, having been the driving force behind the recovery of Halifax NA337 from a Norwegian fjord in 1995 and its subsequent restoration at the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ontario. This story begins a couple of years ago, when Karl spotted an advertisement in a British magazine noting the discovery of Hastings wing parts in a long-dormant scrapyard on Malta. He had already planned to visit the country to pay tribute to a recently deceased friend, Canadian fighter pilot W. C. 'Bud' Cornell, a veteran of the Malta campaign in 1942. Kjarsgaard wanted to see for himself the land from which Connell had flown and fought, and to present a copy of the pilot's logbook to the Malta Aviation Museum.

Classic Aircraft 09/2011

Well-known warbird pilot Rob Davies escaped uninjured after baling out of P-51D Mustang Big Beautiful Doll on 10 July. His low-level exit from the aircraft followed a midair collision at Duxford's Flying Legends Air Show with the Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis' AD-4N Skyraider, which was landed safely by its pilot Pierre Fages. The mishap occurred at the very end of the flying display on the show's second day Recoveries following the massed 'balbo' flypast by 27 warbirds were coming to a close, with the final three and four-ship sections running in to break. Big Beautiful Doll, sold by Rob Davies to the Air Fighter Academy at Heringsdorf, Germany, earlier this year, had the Skyraider on its left and Dan Friedkin flying Comanche Fighters' P-51 D February to the right. As the three aircraft approached the western end of the airfield, Rob pulled up and broke left into the circuit. Pierre Fages followed a few seconds later in the Skyraider, seeming to pull rather harder than had the Mustang ahead. The collision occurred moments afterwards, the Skyraider's starboard wing appearing to strike the Mustang aft of its under-fuselage air scoop. Big Beautiful Doll was thrown sideways by the impact, while the Skyraider entered a roll, recovering with considerable loss of height.