Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vintage Warbirds

I have a thing for old warbirds, vintage planes from WW II. We live about 20 miles from the Sonoma County Airport and Air Museum, home to a number of these restored beauties, so it's not unusual to see one fly over now and then. I'm like Pavlov's puppy. I hear those prop driven engines and I'm out of the house in flash with my binoculars.

I don't know where this obsession started but the seed may have been planted by my folks. They took me to the Unlimited Hydroplane Races at Pyramid Lake outside of Reno, Nevada when I was a kid. The engines that powered the monster 28' boats in the early 60's were surplus WWII aircraft engines like the V-12 Allison and Rolls Royce Merlin. When they went by at full speed your entire body would vibrate, way better than even a Grateful Dead drum solo at full volume.

So this is a big week for vintage planes locally. The Collings Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation devoted to supporting living history events (www.collingsfoundation.org) has a B-17, B-24, and P-51 on tour and have been at the Sonoma County Airport for a couple of days. My husband was reading on the front porch yesterday afternoon and all of a sudden I hear him shouting "get out here quick" so I grabbed my binoculars and joined him. What an incredible sight to see this baby fly right over the house.  


Starting tomorrow the restored B-17 Flying Fortress ’Sentimental Journey’ and the B-25 Mitchell ‘Maid in the Shade’ are visiting the Sonoma County Air Museum (http://www.pacificcoastairmuseum.org/) on tour. I will definitely head up there with my camera, I might even take a flight over Sonoma County. I mean really what's life about if you can't treat yourself to one of your long term fantasies now and again?

Last year I went up to see the Sentimental Journey and started chatting with a gentleman wearing a vintage leather flight jacket holding a picture. It turns out his father had be part of the flight crew and the jacket belonged to him. I was honored to photograph him with the plane holding his dad's photo. Talk to your fathers, uncles and grandfathers and learn a little more about your history. Visit a local airshow in your area or check the links above to see if the tours are coming to your hometown. You will be thrilled and amazed!