Recognized by its distinctive triple-tail design and dolphin-shaped fuselage, the Lockheed Constellation “Connie” continues to capture the interest of aviation buffs. Built by Lockheed between 1943 and 1958, the Constellation was used for both a commercial airliner and U.S. military air transport. Most notably, the only VC-121E built was the personal aircraft for President Dwight Eisenhower. After World War II, the Constellation began its history as a commercial airliner with Trans World Airlines receiving its first aircraft in 1945.
The National Airline History Museum located in Kansas City, Missouri is currently restoring its Lockheed Constellation, an L-1049G which was one of Lockheed’s last Constellations and now painted in Trans World Airlines colors. The museum’s restoration efforts are in preparation to fly the Lockheed Constellation “Connie” on April 17, 2014 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1944 inaugural flight piloted by Howard Hughes and TWA president Jack Frye. This flight set a record for coast-to-coast, non-stop flight from Burbank, California to Washington, D.C. in 6 hours and 58 minutes. On the return flight, the aircraft gave Orville Wright his last flight when it stopped at Wright Field.
The museum is planning to use the Lockheed Super Constellation, Super Connie, as an ambassador to Kansas City and to promote the history of commercial aviation during its more elegant and unique time.
Hobby Master just announced the latest Signature Edition model coming in July, the 1:48 scale P-51 Mustang “Paul 1″ signed by Col. Paul H. Poberezny. Col. Paul Poberezny is the founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and a 1999 inductee to the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2002, he received the prestigious Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association. With a distinguished military career spanning almost 30 years, Col. Poberezny is one of the most decorated men in the international aviation community. A veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict, he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as the only man in the armed forces to receive all seven aviation wings. With more than 70 years of flying, Paul has piloted up to 500 different types of aircraft, including amateur-built airplanes, and has logged more than 30,000 hours of flight time. Some of the more famous military aircraft he has flown include the Bell P-39 Airacobra, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Vought F4U Corsair, and the North American P-51 Mustang. Col. Paul Poberezny is one of the most sought-after aviation spokesmen and represents the interests of more than 170,000 active EAA members at events around the world. This highly collectible Limited Edition model will feature engraved panel lines, fully detailed cockpit with sliding canopy and removable pilot figure, authentic markings, and more. The display stand will include the signed nameplate. Limited Edition of 500 pieces.
Chad Kirchner — 05/04/2013
Tesla is having a tumultuous year, legally. They recently won the right to sell their Model S vehicles in New York, but then were denied sales in Virginia. Tesla is gaining ground in Texas, though, with a new factory and model on the line.
When it comes to sales though, Elon Musk’s Tesla must be motivated by Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” The Model S has reached a new milestone when it was recently announced that Tesla sold more vehicles than expected (and that the company became more profitable sooner than expected). So far this year the Tesla Model S has sold more units in North America than the Chevrolet Volt, taking the lead in rechargeable automobile sales.
The 4,750 deliveries of Model S vehicles exceed the 4,421 sales of the Chevrolet Volt, and the 3,695 sales of the Nissan Leaf. Even though these are all low-volume numbers, being on top is still a great success for the independent automobile maker in Palo Alto.
It should be noted that General Motors sells the Opel Ampera in Europe. The combined sales of both the Volt and the Ampera is approximately 9,000 units. Also, Nissan Leaf sales dipped early this year because the company moved production of the US version of the vehicle from Japan to Tennessee.
According to automotive analyst John Wolkonowicz, the Volt makes more sense to more people, and will likely regain the sales crown by the end of the year. “The Volt is the one that makes sense out of that whole group of plug-ins, because you can use it like a regular car when the battery runs out,” says Wolkonowicz.
Range anxiety is becoming less of an issue, especially with the Tesla, due to the excellent range (approximately 300 miles on the high-end version). Also, Tesla is installing 30-minute “Supercharger” stations along popular motorway routes across the country. Tesla is also hinting at a 500 mile range in the near future. So even though analysts seem bearish on Tesla, Tesla seems to delight in proving them wrong every chance they get.
By M.L. JOHNSON Associated Press MILWAUKEE April 28, 2013 (AP)
For years, the biggest draws at air shows have been the military’s two elite jet teams, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbirds, and their intricate stunts. The armed services also have provided F-16, F-18 and F-22 fighter jets and the U.S. Army Parachute Team, known as the Golden Knights. All the teams were grounded as of April 1 to save money, and the military also dramatically curtailed its help with ground displays of various aircraft.
Those cutbacks have affected more than 200 of the approximately 300 air shows held in the United States each year, said John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows. About 60 shows have been cancelled, and he expects more cancellations as the season progresses and hope for restoration of the budget cuts fades. He predicted 15 percent to 20 percent of the shows won’t return next year, even if the military begins participating again.
“The worst case is that they either cancel and go out of business, or they don’t cancel and they have such poor attendance and they go out of business,” he said.
Local economies also will feel the sting of the cancellations without the air shows bringing in crucial tourism dollars.
Representatives for some of the nation’s biggest air shows, such as the air and water shows in Chicago and Milwaukee and the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., said they didn’t expect a lack of active military jets to affect their events. The Chicago and Milwaukee shows are held along the shore of Lake Michigan, where large crowds are expected to gather for a free spectacle; the Oshkosh event is primarily a convention of pilots and aviation enthusiasts, with an air show attached.
But organizers of other events said they expected such a dramatic drop in attendance that they felt they had to cancel.
Thunder over the Blue Ridge in Martinsburg, W.V., an easy day trip from Baltimore and Washington, won’t happen. The two-day show drew 88,000 people when the Thunderbirds performed in 2010, said Bill Walkup, one of the board members and manager of the Martinsburg airport.
“Having the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels is like having the Super Bowl, it’s a household name,” Walkup said. Without a jet team, the show typically draws 15,000 or fewer.
Organizers also faced a challenge because the show had been hosted for the past few years by the West Virginia Air National Guard. After the Guard said it couldn’t do that because of budget cuts, organizers considered hosting the show at the civilian side of the airport — until the Thunderbirds cancelled.
“When this happened, it just put us out of business,” Walkup said.
Maj. Darrick Lee, spokesman for the Thunderbirds, said a typical season averages about $9.75 million and the Air Force needs to focus its resources now on its mission in Afghanistan. Team members are still doing local public appearances that have little or no cost, he said.
By MELISSA NELSON-GABRIEL | Associated Press – Thu, Apr 18, 2013
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AP) — At 97, retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole can still fly and land a vintage B-25 with a wide grin and a wave out the cockpit window to amazed onlookers.
David Thatcher, 91, charms admiring World War II history buffs with detailed accounts of his part in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, in which he earned a Silver Star.
Retired Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93, still gets loud laughs from crowds for his one liners about the historic bombing raid 71 years ago Thursday that helped to boost a wounded nation’s morale in the aftermath of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
Cole, Thatcher and Saylor — three of the four surviving crew members from the history-making bombing run — are at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle for a final public reunion of the Doolittle Raiders. They decided to meet at Eglin because it is where they trained for their top-secret mission in the winter of 1942, just weeks after the Japanese devastated the American fleet at Pearl Harbor.
The fourth surviving raider, 93-year-old Robert Hite, could not make the event.
“At the time of the raid, you know the war was on and it was just a mission we went on, we were lucky enough to survive it but it didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time. I spent the rest of the war in Europe and with the guys in Normandy and taking bodies out of airplanes and stuff and I didn’t feel like a hero,” Saylor said Wednesday following a ceremony in which an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter maintenance hangar at the base was named in his honor.
Saylor joked with the audience of young airmen and local dignitaries.
“My reaction when I out found out we were bombing Japan from an aircraft carrier was that it was too far to swim back home so we might as well go ahead with it,” he said.
The 16 planes, loaded with one-ton bombs, took off from the aircraft carrier on less than 500 feet of runway. They had only enough fuel to drop their bombs and try to land in China with the hope that the Chinese would help them to safety.
“We were all pretty upbeat about it, we didn’t have any bad thoughts about what was going to happen. We just did what we had to do,” said Cole, who was Doolittle’s co-pilot.
Wednesday’s event at the base is part of a weeklong series of activities planned by the military and community leaders to honor the men.
Thomas Casey, business manager for the Raiders and a longtime fan of the men, said the four survivors have decided they can no longer keep up with the demands of group public appearances.
“The mission ends here in Fort Walton Beach on Saturday night, but their legacy starts then,” he said.
Casey said he hopes everyone who has had a chance to interact with the men will keep their legacy alive. “I want them to tell the story to their children, their grandchildren, their neighbors and keep their story going because their story is worthwhile telling.”
At each reunion is a case containing 80 silver goblets with the name of each raider inscribed right-side up and upside down on a single goblet. The men toast their fallen comrades each year and turn their goblets upside down in their honor.
They have also saved a bottle of Hennessy cognac from 1896, the year mission commander James Doolittle was born. The Raiders had said the final two survivors would open the bottle, but they have since decided that the four survivors will meet in private later this year for the toast.
At Wednesday’s dedication of the Saylor Hangar, the three men posed for pictures beneath a vintage B-25 bomber and an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that sat beside it.
Col. Andrew Toth, commander of the F-35 squadron at Eglin, told the men, “You boosted the morale of this nation just four months after Pearl Harbor. Thank you for your dedication and service.”
Young airmen and women obtained the old veterans’ autographs and thanked them for their service.
“I’ve seen the movies — you know, ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,’” said Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Matesick. “I think this is awesome because they actually trained here at Eglin and they did the ceremony to actually name a hangar after one of the guys. It’s pretty cool.”
Larry Kelley owns the vintage B-25 aircraft that Cole flew a day earlier during a demonstration of four restored B-25s from the World War II era.
Kelley choked up when trying to explain what it has meant to him to meet Cole and the other raiders over the past several years and to have the men fly in his aircraft.
“Here are some of the most famous aviators that came out of World War II and they’ve never put a nickel in their pocket” as a result of their fame, he said. Instead, he said, any money from book signings and appearances has always gone to the James H. Doolittle Scholarship Fund for aviation students.
Kelley said sitting beside Cole while Cole took the controls of the B-25 and landed the aircraft was a highlight of his life as a World War II and aviation buff.
“Oh yeah, he did most of the flying today. He did the landing. He’s dead on. I kept looking over the altimeter. I told him to hold 1,500 feet and I kept looking at the altimeter and it was dead on: not 1,499 feet, not 1,501 feet. He had the altimeter pegged at 1,500 feet,” he said.
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