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"Wings of the Silver Screen."
The County of San Bernardino
Planes of Fame 2008 Air Show May 17-18, 2008
Story and photos by Victor G. Archer
Photo coverage of the The Horsemen by Jeffrey Archer

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TThis year marked the 23rd air show at the famous Cal Aero Field, Chino Ca. (CNO) The show recognized aviation's role in the motion picture industry and the flying display of historic aircraft that have been seen in many famous films, including 30 Seconds over Tokyo, Flying Tigers, The Flying Leathernecks, Pearl Harbor, Midway, Tora Tora Tora, Baa Baa Blacksheep, Fighter Squadron, Saving Private Ryan, The Hunters, The Bridges at Toko Ri and many more. "Wings of the Silver Screen" also featured Wing Walking, warbird formations, aerobatics, an F-16 Viper demonstration and Heritage Flight, additionally, the famous airpower flyover with over 20 warbirds.

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The show started with a classic wing-walking performance from Silver Wings, featuring pilot Hartley olstad, wing walker Margi Stivers and their Stearman biplane. Stivers thrilled the spectators with her unique poses, like the upside down splits, standing splits, Victory pose, back-layout off the wing rack, the n-strut "aerobesque" and handstand on the top wing. Among her many accomplishments it was interesting to note that Stivers performed her 1,100th wing walk during the show.

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NNext, a salute to the Doolittle Raiders attack on Tokyo. Two North American B-25 Mitchells took to the air, the Museums own B-25 Photo Fanny and the Aero Traders B-25 Pacific Princess  made several mock bombing runs and flew figure-eight patterns around the field. These Aircraft have been in many movies and both the Pacific Princess and Photo Fanny actually flew off the aircraft carrier USS Constellation for the feature film, Pearl Harbor in Sept. 2000.

Aerobatics featuring Steve Hinton, flying Rod Lewis' 1945 Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat who put on a great demonstration, which included loops, rolls and high-speed passes. Rob Harrison, "The Tumbling Bear", was originally scheduled to perform here but Harrison was involved in a crash at the Modesto air show earlier in the airshow season. Harrison is recovering from his injuries and hopes to be up flying later this year.

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A large group of aircraft representative of those that fought in the Pacific Theater was next. The first two aircraft to go up were the Douglas Dauntless, flown by Ron Hackworth and the only known airworthy Grumman F3F "flying barrel" piloted by Rob Paterson. The F3F was the Navy's last shipboard biplane fighter prior to WWII. Some of the other aircraft that flew in this group included a Lockheed P-38 Lightning flown by Steve Hinton, North American P-51A flown by John Hinton, a pair of Curtiss P-40 Warhawks piloted by Mark Moody and Jim Thomas, a pair of Japanese built Mitsubishi Zeros piloted by John Maloney and Jason Somes, Japanese Aichi Val flown by Tom Nightingale, Grumman FM2 Wildcat and F6F Hellcat piloted by Tom Camp and Ken Gottschall and a Chance Vought F4U Corsair flown by Mark Foster.

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The Japanese aircraft, a Val dive-bomber, escorted by the two Zeros, made a run on the field. Then the Zeros departed to fly top cover and got into a dogfight with the two P-40s and P-38 also joining in on the air battle was a rare P-51A. The Allied aircraft chased off the Japanese Val and then made several low-level passes in front of the crowd line.

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During a short break from the flying, the California Historical Group put on a military ground combat demonstration which included a Sherman tank and many other armored vehicles from both Allied and Axis powers. The re-enactors wore uniforms representing U.S., British, German and Russian Soldiers all from World War II.

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Back to the action in the sky, the next group of aircraft represented the Korean Air War, with aircraft such as the Stinson L-5 Sentinel, several North American T-6 Texans and F-51 Mustangs and a pair of Chance Vought F4U Corsairs. Also flying in this group were some of the early jet aircraft, including a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, North American F-86 abre and Russian Mig-15. Most of the fighter aircraft made several low level passes, while Steve Hinton at the controls of a North American F-86 Sabre and Chris Fahey piloting the Mig-15 put on a great tail-chase routine across the sky.

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The next flying demonstration was breathtaking, The Horsemen, Jim Beasley and Ed Shipley, performed a two ship formation routine both flying P-51 Mustangs. Shipley in Wee Willie flew right on Beasley's wing flying Spam Can as they did a series of loops and rolls, then they change to a stacked formation where Shipley was underneath and a little behind Beasley as they once again performed a loop and a roll, throughout the entire routine they were never more than a few feet apart. (click here for photo essay by Jeffrey Archer)

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Bombers and little friends of the European Theater, next up was a flying display of bombers and fighter escort aircraft. The first two planes to go up were Museums own B-25 Photo Fanny and a Boeing B-7G Flying Fortress Fuddy Duddy. The two bombers made passes in tight formation as they were followed by a pair of P-51D Mustangs, Lady Alice flown by Ken Wagner and Kimberly Kay piloted by Tony Banta. Joining this group was Eddie Kurdziel flying his beautifully restored Fairey Firefly AS-6, one of only three Fireflies in airworthy condition. John Maloney went up in the Museums 1944 Griffin powered Spitfire Mk XIV along with Kevin Eldridge in very rare 1942 Republic P-47G Thunderbolt, joining this rare and unique group was Jeff Harris in a Lockheed P-38 Lightning. The P-38 was originally bought for a grand total $1,250 in 1946 from the giant aircraft bone yard at Kingman, AZ.

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Reno Unlimited Racers at Chino and a little bit of a historic moment as Steven Hinton flew Bill Tiger Destefanis highly modified P-51 Mustang racer Strega along with Mark Watt in the Brian Sanders modified Hawker Sea Fury Dreadnought powered by massive 4,360 cubic inch 28 cylinder engine. Steven Hinton, Steve Hintons son is one of the youngest pilots to ever solo in a Mustang and this was the first time Steven had flown at an air show. Strega the Mustang Steven was flying is one of the fastest racing Mustangs at the Reno National Championship Air Races and with Tiger at the controls has won the Unlimited Gold Race six times.

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Bent wing birds take flight, a tribute to the TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep. A flight of four F4U Corsairs made several formation and single passes for air show fans. The Museums own Corsair an F4U-1 was once owned by MGM Studios and was flown in the TV series. Two of the Corsairs were actually built by Goodyear and are FG-1D models; these two aircraft have crossed paths many times during their life. One owned by Rod Lewis is Bu. # 67070 and the other owned by Chuck Wentworth Bu. # 67087 were together on the assembly line,  after the war both saw service in the El Salvadoran Air Force as FAS-202 and FAS-211. Over sixty years after they were first built they sat side by side on the ramp at Chino. The fourth Corsair was a later model F4U-4 with a four bladed prop, this aircraft was just recently brought back to the States after spending the last ten years in France.

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Brian Sanders' Sea Fury aerobatic routine, was a real treat for the crowd. With smoke generators on the wingtips, Sanders put his Sea Fury Argonaut through an amazing performance filled full of high speed loops, rolls and passes. It's more like watching a military-style demonstration than just aerobatics.

Next was the mass airpower formation flightsomething only seen at Chino's air show. Aircraft in this year's group included two P-38s, four P-51s, two P-47s, two P-40s, F6Fs, four B-25s, a Spitfire, two B-25s and a B-17. This special formation usually has between 20 and 30 aircraft flying at one time and is truly an amazing sight.

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The Air Force F-16 Viper tactical demonstration team took to the sky with high-speed maneuvers, including a knife-edge pass, high G turns and mock ground attacks. The F-16 viper designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions at low altitude, day or night, and in all weather. After the demonstration, a P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning, flown by Hinton, joined in for the USAF Heritage Flight.

Several more aircraft, military vehicles and other aviation-related items were on display for guests to see close-up. There were also opportunities to experience the thrill of flying in warbirds, such as the P-51 Mustang and P-40 Warhawk. Theres always great variety of food and memorabilia available from vendors as well as information booths from the Air Force, National Guard, Sheriffs Department and more.

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Planes of Fame was the first permanent air museum on the West coast, and is a major center for restoring aircraft to flying condition. Donations and admission fees provide most of the operating funds for the museum which is staffed by a group of dedicated volunteers. For more information about the Air Museum Planes of Fame, call 909-597-3722 or visit www.planesoffame.org .

The Horsemen By Jeffrey Archer

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