The liberals like to call those of us living in middle America as NASCAR loving rednecks.  KC has a NASCAR track on the western outskirts of Kansas City, KS and there is a number of races scheduled around the year.
But we here in middle America don’t limit our racing to just NASCAR. The truth is that we like just about any kind of racing.  Old NFO has a post about a transient aircraft at a small local airport and the effect it had on those present.  It reminded me of a race that I attended. A race I remember to this day. 
Hawker Sea Fury
Hawker Typhoon
F8F Bearcat
F2G Super Corsair
P-51D Miss America
It was a different kind of race.  Air racing. Reno-style. With WW2/Korea era piston-engined fighters like the P-51D, the F8F Bearcat, the F4U/F2G Corsair, the Hawker Typhoon and Sea Fury.

There were two races in the afternoon with a mini-air show in between.  There were a number of old fighter aircraft on display including a P-38, F-80, F-87 and a Mig-15.  The P-38 and F-80 each did a solo aerobatic demonstration.  There was supposed to be a mock dogfight between the F-87 and the Mig-15 but there was some maintenance issue in one of them and they didn’t perform.

My role, as one of the pylon judges, was to observe how close each aircraft came to the pylons.  There were strict rules governing how the pylon could be approached, at what altitude, the minimum distance allowable to the pylon and some other rules I’ve now forgotten.  Mostly we just laid on the ground and watched the aircraft as they made the turn.  My job was to check the approach direction.  There were specific rules on the approach vector to insure that if any accident occurred it wouldn’t endanger any of the nearby residences or other structures.

One older local pilot told me to bring some earplugs. I was glad I did. My ears still rang for a day even with the protection of the ear plugs.  There’s nothing like the sound of a Merlin or 4-bank radial engine at full power.  If you look at the race results below, you see the average speeds were in the neighborhood of 400mph. Many flew well above that.

It was an afternoon to remember.
1993 – Oct 22-24, Kansas City Air Races, Olathe KC

   Championship = 1. Bill Destefani, P-51D Strega (v: 408.91). 2. Dennis Sanders, Sea Fury Dreadnought (v: 402.37). 3. Bill Rheinschild, P-51D Risky Business (v: 379.64). 4. Kevin Eldridge, F2G Super Corsair (v: 375.84). 5. Del Williams, P-51D Pegasus (v: 360.26).  

   Reserve Race = 1. Alan Preston, P-51D Miss America (v: 347.72). 2. Lloyd Hamilton, Sea Fury Baby Gorilla (v: 340.09). 3. Robert Converse, P-51D Huntress III (v: 322.36). 4. Howard Pardue, F8F-1 Bearcat (v: 320.90). 5. Art Vance, P-51D Million Dollar Baby (v: 257.80).

On the wings of Eagles…

A friend of mine sent me the link to this video. It is about the P-51 fighter, the men who piloted them and those remaining still today. It is a story about Jim Brooks, a Double Ace, and his Grandkids.

I know someone like Jim, who, by coincidence is also named Jim. My friend flew B-17s in Europe, completed his tour and then flew B-29s on missions over Japan. A few years later, he flew B-29s over North Korea—a time where the life expectancy of a B-29 was measured in single digit missions.

Follow this link to the video about the Gray Eagles. It a bit long but worth it. It’s in HD and if you have a broadband connection, watch it in full screen (check the little box with a rising arrow.)

The Gray Eagles. Enjoy and remember them.