Pardubice Aviation Fair, 2017

June 3 and 4  of 2017 saw the annual air show in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

As usual, the event was civilian focused with replica and restored aircraft from several eras in aviation history in attendance.

The weather was hot and sunny with a lot of heat haze and the sun directly overhead and a bit behind the display line most of the day. As such, most of my flying shots weren’t really presentable.

A lot of regular performers for the event made their returns and a few new performers were in the mix:

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This preserved OV-10 Bronco, formerly of the Luftwaffe, came in from France.
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The Red Bull B-25 Mitchell gets a pre show polishing. Red Bull also brought their Douglas DC-6, T-28 Trojan and an Alpha Jet to the event.
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One of two T-28 Trojan aircraft in attendance.
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One of a Pair of Yakovlev Yak-3 fighters at the event. This particular one was built in 1944.
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This was the first time I’ve seen a Pilatus PC-7 at the event.
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This German registered Orličan L-40 Meta Sokol was a pleasant surprise when it arrived, it’s not the most common of GA types to see.
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One of the most attractive GA types, in my view anyway, is the Let L-200 Morava. As always, it was lovely to see one at the event.
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Spitfire TE184 is a regular at the event. It’s always interesting to see as the markings seem to change a bit every year.
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This locally based Let L-410 Turbolet was part of the official show opening flypast.
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The Bleriot XI replica seen just after landing.
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The Red Bull Douglas DC-6 touches down after a spectacular performance. Initially, the DC-6 was not scheduled for the event. However, it did a very good job of filling in as a last minute replacement for the scheduled Lockheed Constellation which had to cancel for technical reasons.

Book Review: “Ol’ Shakey”

Ol’ Shakey: Memories of a Flight Engineer
By: Byron Gene Fish
Outskirts Press (2013)

Through the 1950s and 1960s, the distinctive looking Douglas C-124 Globemaster II was the primary heavy lift aircraft of the U.S. Air Force. It was a bulky, hulking aircraft that was difficult to mistake for anything else on a flightline of the period.

It was also a very distinctive aircraft from a standpoint of operating it and had a habit of keeping crew members, particularly flight engineers, alert and busy with a myriad of mechanical idiosynchrasies.

This book gives one a very good overview of the training involved to become a flight engineer on “Ol’ Shakey” as the C-124 was nicknamed in service. It also examines how crews had to have complete trust in each other to operate the aircraft effectively and what could happen if that trust was compromised.

The book also details a range of scenarios that were typical  when working with the aircraft, such as crawling through a maintenance tunnel that ran through the wings in order to examine and service the engines in flight.

Beyond the aircraft itself, the book also gives the reader an idea of what the crews experienced at the various spots around the world they flew the aircraft into. It also gives one a feel for what the inter-service and inter-unit politics and rivalries of the time could be like.

Most of what is in this book are solid flying stories, though there are a few stories of off duty clowning about to add comic relief to the mix.

As it deals with the transport mission, it’s not the most exciting book you’ll find. Nonetheless, it is an accessible and informative read from a very qualified voice on the subject.

The author, Byron Gene Fish, spent the bulk of his professional life in aviation with many of those years spent at the flight engineer station of the C-124 aircraft.

This link will take you to the book’s profile on the publisher’s website:

https://outskirtspress.com/webpage?isbn=9781478716907#details

Beneš-Mráz Be-50 Beta Minor – A Favourable First

Beneš-Mráz: Short Lived, but Successful 

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Be-50 Beta Minor seen at Pardubice, Czech Republic in 2016.

The name Beneš-Mráz may not be well known outside the Czech lands, the company only existed from 1935 to 1939. However, in that short window of time, the company produced no fewer than 14 aircraft designs for the civil market.

The company was founded by accomplished aviation engineer Pavel Beneš and businessman Jaroslav Mráz. Previous to partnering with Mráz, Beneš had founded the famous Avia company in 1919 with fellow engineer Miroslav Hajn.  Beneš also spent time working in the aircraft division of the Praga company before partnering with Mráz in the mid 1930s and setting up a factory in Cocheň in the northern part of today’s Czech Republic. By 1939, Beneš had divested himself of his part of the company and it was renamed Mráz to reflect the change in ownership.

Through the German occupation of World War II, the rise and fall of Socialism and a number of name changes of the years; the legacy of Beneš-Mráz has carried on to today in the form of Orličan a.s., a sailplane manufacturer that continues to operate in their ancestral home of Cocheň.

The Be-50 Beta Minor: A Solid Start 

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Beta Minor at Pardubice in 2016.

Summer of 1935 saw the first flight of the first aircraft type designed by the newly established Beneš-Mráz company, the Be-50 Beta Minor.

The Beta Minor was designed for touring, training and sport flying and proved an excellent start for the company. The aircraft was a very clean design with viceless handling qualities that made it popular with flying clubs of Czechoslovakia at the time.

With a large part of the airframe comprised of wood, the Beta Minor was, at 460 kilograms, a light yet sturdy aircraft. It was powered by a domestically designed and built Walter Minor four cylinder engine that could propel the aircraft to a very respectable top speed of 195 kilometers per hour. A combination of light weight and efficient design gave the Beta Minor a range of 750 kilometers without refueling. The aircraft gave a quite good account of itself at a number of distance based races in the late 1930s.

Outside of being very much a pilot’s plane, the Be-50 was also appreciated for mechanical reliability, ease of maintenance and very good short take off and landing performance. A total of 43 Be-50 aircraft were made in the original run by Beneš-Mráz and developed further via the Be-51 series in 1936.

The Be-51 was based on the Be-50, but featured a fully enclosed cockpit and a somewhat shortened wingspan; these modifications gave the Be-51 improved speed and aerobatic ability over the Be-50. The Be-50 shared the Beta Minor name with the Be-51.

In the Reich and the Resistance 

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The clean lines of the Be-50 seen to good effect over Pardubice in 2016.

As with so many other domestically developed aircraft in Czechoslovakia, the existing Be-50 and Be-51 aircraft in the country were commandeered for Luftwaffe service with the 1939 arrival of German occupational forces.

The Luftwaffe made use of both Be-50 and Be-51 types for liason and training work.

Beta Minors also found their way into the service of the Independent State of Croatia and the Slovak State, two German friendly puppet states that existed during the Second World War. The aircraft were primarily used as trainers and couriers by both bodies.

A strong anti-Axis partisan resistance movement rose up in Yugoslavia through the Second World War and at least one Beta Minor aircraft was captured from Croatian hands by partisan forces late in the conflict.

Very few Beta Minors survived the war and those which did were destroyed soon after the end of hostilities.

The Be-50 Today and Further Reading 

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The world’s sole Be-50 Beta Minor at Pardubice in 2016.

For many years, the world had no extant examples of the Beta Minor in any form.

Happily, the original plans of the Be-50 have survived to the present and through several years of careful work in the early 2000s, the Military Historic Institute of the Czech Republic (VHU) built a fully fresh Be-50 faithfully following the original plans. The aircraft was put on static display to the public in 2013 and flew for the first time in 2015. It’s currently active on the Czech civil register and makes appearances at shows around the country.

The aircraft has a few concessions made for modern aviation regualtions and was given construction number 44 to fit in with the original 43 made by Beneš-Mráz themselves so many years before. It is considered a true Be-50 rather than a replica in many quarters.

When it is not flying, it is usually kept on display at the Methodius Vlach Aviation Museum in Mladá Boleslav, north east of Prague in the Czech Republic.

The following links have all been through a translator function and their English is somewhat rough as a result. However, they do contain a good amount of information about the original Be-50 development as well as the new built example:

http://www.letecke-muzeum-metodeje-vlacha.cz/exponaty/letadla-letuschopna/benes-mraz-be-50-beta-minor/

https://translate.google.cz/translate?hl=en&sl=cs&u=http://www.vhu.cz/letoun-beta-minor-be-50-ze-sbirek-vhu-se-poprve-vznesl/&prev=search

https://translate.google.cz/translate?hl=en&sl=cs&u=http://www.pilotinfo.cz/z-historie/historicka-letadla/opomenuty-prvni-vzlet-repliky-letounu-benes-mraz-beta-minor&prev=search

Beech Model 18 Revisited

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Putting a New Shine to an Old Article

Those of you that have followed this blog for a while are likely aware that I’ve had an entry about the Beechcraft Model 18 for sometime. In fact, it may be one of my earliest entries.

Between last weekend and this one, I decided it was time to bring that article up to the standard of my more recent ones.

Revisions included editing and extension of text, refreshment of photographs and an extended section of links for further reading.

I’m much happier with the revised article and I hope you will be too.

https://pickledwings.wordpress.com/beech-model-18-vintage-and-versatile/