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Flight Paths
September 25  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Vintage planes get inspected, repaired as flying season ends Now that the Fly Days are over, mechanics at the Flying Heritage Collection turn to inspections and maintenance on FHC’s vintage aircraft. Periodically, it comes time inspect or overhaul a propeller. This off season, it seems, lots of propellers are due for maintenance. In all, seven props—B-25, P-47, P-51, Bf 109, Fw 190, and others—are going to be pulled, disassembled, crated and sent off for service in order to have them back in tip-top shape for next...

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September 17  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
How a Huey helicopter gets around The FHC is always on the move. With so many aircraft, they are always getting switched from place to place. One might wonder, how do we move the Huey? The heavy helicopter is on skids after all … Staffers attach a set of wheels to the skids near the helicopter’s center of gravity. With the wheels in place and jacked up (or jacked down) below the skids, a towbar is attached to loops in the forward part of the skids. With a tug in front and a little down pressure on the...

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September 10  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Aircraft's side keeps its mission Suspended from the ceiling of the FHC’s gallery is Scaled Composites’ White Knight carrier aircraft. If you look closely, on the side is a scoreboard of sorts, exhibiting the lifting/launch missions undertaken by the airplane. Images of SpaceShipOne indicate times White Knight lifted the small spacecraft. The first time was May 20, 2003. On August 7, SpaceShipOne was released, gliding to the ground, indicated by the looping ribbon below the silhouette of the craft. As...

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August 27  |  By Cory Graff
'Mighty Mouse' rockets were a terrifying opponent The Flying Heritage Collections’s UH-1B Huey gunship is equipped with a pair of seven-shot 2.75-inch rockets.

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July 30  |  Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Boeing engineer revolutionized hydroplanes with Slo-Mo-Shun IV Summer in Seattle means Seafair. While the Flying Heritage Collection’s planes take part in the Boeing Seafair Air Show, there used to be aviation ties to the hydroplane races too. In the late 1940s and 1950s, two main factions developed in the hydro world. The teams from Detroit, drawing on their experience with building automobiles, created boats that were all about muscle and power. The men of the Seattle teams, many of whom had "day jobs" at Boeing, used...

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July 16  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Tank's hatch offered soldiers escape The escape hatch located in the belly of the Sherman tank has long been a point of conjecture and a favorite and a favorite plot device for Hollywood movie-makers. As you can see, there is such a thing. This photo was shot of the FHC’s Sherman. Some say it was there for the crew to switch drivers with some degree of safety. Others say it was there in case the tank overturned or somehow, the hatches were blocked or damaged. Others note that fires in Shermans grew fiercer when...

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July 9  |  By Cory Graff Flying Heritage Collection
Which plane is which? In the skies over Korea, the American F-86 Sabre and the Soviet-built MiG-15 looked quite similar. It was very difficult to tell one smoky silver speck from another. A few seconds of indecision could prove deadly. Even up close, the two planes still look quite similar — intake up front, swept wings, and little bubble canopy. One of the most distinctive features of the planes was their tails. An F-86 has horizontal stabilizers that are attached to the rear of the fuselage. The...

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June 18  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
WWII history takes to the skies Two of the fighters scheduled to take to the skies at the Flying Heritage Collection’s free Fly Day on June 20 made history as America’s top ace-makers during World War II. The U.S. Army’s North American P-51 Mustang flew in Europe and the Pacific. Flyers of the legendary P-51 are credited with shooting down some 4,950 enemy fighters. A total of 275 Mustang pilots became aces — shooting down five or more enemy planes in combat. The only fighter to surpass...

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June 5  |  By Cory Graff Flying Heritage Collection
The FHC’s Spitfire Mk. Vc has what is called a "universal wing." The wing design is less complex than earlier models and thus was able to be build quicker. One interesting aspect of the new wing was it allowed squadrons to pick the types of weaponry they would like to fly with on a particular mission. The universal wing could carry eight .303 machine guns, four 20 mm cannons, or a mixture of the two. The FHC’s Spitfire is currently set up with two cannons and...

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May 21  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Germany's 88-millimeter cannon terrorized Allied pilots One of Germany’s most respected weapons was the 88-millimeter cannon. This powerful gun was much-feared by Allied flyers, tankers and infantry men. In the air, fighter pilots were instructed to change course every seven to ten seconds to keep an 88 shell from exploding nearby. Bomber pilots, stuck in big formations, had no way to move away from the 88’s 22-pound shells spraying jagged metal through the skies. On the ground, one wrong move and tankers could fall into the...

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May 13  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Tough planes were designed to take a beating The FHC is fielding some of its biggest bruisers for Paine Field Aviation Day this Saturday, May 16. Flying in the Pacific Theater was the F6F Hellcat. Flyers joked that Grumman made the plane from discarded steel girders from New York’s recently-dismantled Second Avenue elevated railway. In Western Europe, the P-47 Thunderbolt roamed the skies, looking for trouble. There are accounts of a P-47 striking a church steeple and coming home. Another plane even flew into a German...

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April 30  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Pilots use a clever trick to keep damaged planes in the air Aircraft with variable pitch propellers can "feather" their props if needed. The term comes from rowing, when you can turn the blade of your oar so that it cuts through the water with the least resistance. The propeller is similar; a pilot can rotate the blades of the dead prop so that they are parallel to the airflow. This allows single engine planes to glide farther and multi-engine aircraft, like this battered B-24 Liberator, to continue to soldier on even after being...

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April 23  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
'Kommandogerät:' the complicated box that was revolutionary for flying Mechanics are currently doing an annual inspection on the FHC’s rare German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5. As the panels and parts come off, it gives one a chance to see a fleeting glimpse of a critical and revolutionary part of the plane. On the right side, behind the plane’s BMW 801 engine is the "Kommandogerät" (command device). This complicated box, covered with wires, tubes, and fasteners, is an electro-mechanical computer that sets the fighter’s fuel...

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April 16  |  By Cory Graff, Flying Heritage Collection
Three inches of glass separated WWII pilots and machine gun fire How much glass does it take to stop a speeding .50-caliber bullet? Judging from the Messerschmitt Me 163 B Komet, I’d say a little more than three inches — eighty millimeters to be exact. The Komet was built as a bomber destroyer. And plunging into formations of American B-17s and B-24s meant having a whole arsenal of Browning machine guns pointed right at you. As a German pilot worked to quickly do his job, feisty bomber crews showed their displeasure by peppering the...

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