Ryan X-13: Those busy times.

Wonderful nonchalant portrait of Ryan test pilot W.L. “Lou” Everett. “Lou” was, with Ryan Chief Test Pilot Peter Girard, one of the two pilots that flew the radical X-13. He was later involved in testing a few more of the company vertical take-off experimental aircraft. Regrettably, he lost his life during a XV-5 Vertifan flight in 1964.

I love “Lou” Everett’s flight gear patina. That hard working TOPTEX helmet with its “Hardman” receivers for the MBU-3/P oxygen mask and, specially, his really weathered  A-2 jacket.

Bellanca 28-92: Julia did what she could.

This incredibly slick trimotor was custom-built for the well-known Capt. Alexander Papana to take part as a Romanian entrant in the 1937 Istres-Damascus-Paris Air Race. To fulfil this order the Bellanca company simply took the basic design of their single-engined “28’s” racers and powered it by a pair of 250hp Menasco Super Buccaneer in-line engines on the wings and a nose mounted 420hp Ranger SGV-770. Called “Alba Iulia” (White Julia), Papana had some engine problems during its tests prior to delivery (Papana’s fault according to Bellanca) and the order was cancelled then and there. Bellanca soon found work for it. The 28-92 took part in the classic Bendix Air Races of both 1938 and 1939 achieving a retirement due to engine problems and a second position respectively. Acquired by the Ecuadorian AF in 1941 and used until 1945, this jewel ended its days forgotten in an airfield there.

Classic photo of this beauty. Such splendour, I’ve to share it again. Alex Papana next to the just completed 28-92. It still lacking its propeller spinners.

Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3a: Neutrality Enabler.

Splendid portrait of a Swiss “Emil” pilot. Our hero wears a mix of local and German flight gear. German are his  LKp W 100 flight helmet with that nicely strapped 10-69 oxygen mask helmet and what seems to be “Auer” type goggles, or something similar. Of note the lack of canopy rearward armour and, barely seen, one peculiarity of the Swiss “Emils”: they’re equipped with a KG 11 spade grip instead of the usual pistol grip of that model.

All in all a very neatly dressed guy.

Lockheed F-5E Lightning: Only the Brave (V).

The Lightning was a real war winning prodigy of versatility. Apart of the classic fighter models, the iconic Twin-tailed marvel served also as night fighters, bomber pathfinders and above all in photo-reconnaissance role -this aircraft in particular. Some weird experiments were also undertaken with them too, like this man-carrying pods. According to what I’ve read these modified drop tanks were specially designed to accommodate injured servicemen. Of the confort of this contraction the least said the better.

These pods found also an unexpected use. In this photo we can see photojournalist extraordinary David Douglas Duncan (DDD) meddling with his camera before some action. I’m a huge fan of all his work, specially his “This is War !!”. Today is DDD’s birthday : 101 years young and 3 wars over his shoulders. Homeric, just Homeric.

Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk: So Long, Geno.

The Commander of the Apollo 17, “The Last man on the Moon”, has just passed away. Forty-five years after his moon stroll and we’re just doing orbits around this Earth of us…
Gene “Geno” Cernan is seen here reflecting near a two-seat  Skyhawk. (Photo: Mark Craig).

He flew the A-4C model when he was a member of the VA 113 “Stingers” attack squadron.

Once an Aviator, always an Aviator.