Saturday, May 15, 2010

Warbirds are darkening the skies again...

It's that time of year. The weather gets nice and the warbirds come out at Paine Field in Everett, WA.

For whatever reason, Paine Field has become something of a concentration of warbird activity. There are two flying collections, plus a restoration facility for the Museum of Flight in Seattle. There are other privately-owned warbirds stored there as well.

The Historical Flight Foundation opened their doors not long ago with their flying collection. Since then, there has been a B-25D (old USAAF number 43-3318) in the air most days and making numerous flights most weekend days. Paul Allen's P-47 and P-51 have been zooming around lately as well.

I'm starting to wonder about the safety of all this flying of 65 plus year-old planes. I know these planes are well-restored and maintained, but still the fact remains that on average over the past 20 years, there have been about ten warbird crashes every year in the US. All those B-25 flights keep piling up against probability. I know some morning, I'm going to pick up the newspaper and read about a splash-down. It's going to be on take-off or landing, and it's going to be by a low-hours pilot.

Not too difficult to understand is that buying, restoring and flying warbirds is a millionaire's hobby. But we see some of these people at the gun shows all the time, it's just that they don't have the millionaire's money. They watch "Saving Private Ryan" or "Band of Brothers" and the first thing they've got to do is buy an M1 Rifle so that they can be "part of history." I'm thinking this may be the same deal with wannabee B-25 pilots. I'm sure that pilots with plenty of experience are flying that B-25 much of the time, but I also imagine that there are interested people lined up to get "checked out" on the B-25 so they can say they too are a B-25 pilot. It's going to be one of those guys in the right seat.

I hope I'm wrong.

Anyway, there's big money in the warbird business, and as I said, it's a millionaire's hobby. It seems that they are now scouring the jungles for warbirds that crashed in WW2. Here's a link to an interesting article about that.