Alberto Santos-Dumont was a wealthy Brazilian who, following his first ride in a hot air balloon in Paris in 1897, became thrilled with flying. He became an inventor and excellent self-taught engineer and craftsman. Santos-Dumont went on to design several early dirigibles, gliders, and airplanes.
In 1908 Santos-Dumont built and flew his third airplane called the Demoiselle. It weighed and cost less than a motorcycle of the day, and has been described as the world’s first ultra-light airplane. The Demoiselle was a monoplane constructed of canvas and bamboo with three bicycle wheels for landing gear, and powered by 28 horsepower flat twin Darracq engine. The plane could be disassembled, carried in the back seat of a car, and reassembled when the owner wished to fly. Nicknamed the “infuriated grasshopper,” the Demoiselle flew well with small pilots, could reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour, and held the world’s altitude record at one time.
The aircraft in the accompanying photos is a flying replica of the Santos-Dumont Demoiselle. The primary difference between the replica and the original is the substitution of metal tubing for the bamboo in the airframe construction. The photos were taken during an antique aircraft fly in hosted by the Wings Over Miami Air Museum located at the Kendall-Tamiami Airport near Miami, Florida.
The North American F-86 Sabre is one of the greatest fighter aircraft of all time. It entered service with the USAAF in 1949, and was the fist US swept wing jet fighter. The design took advantage of flight research data seized at the end of WWII from the German Luftwaffe that was used to develop the world’s first operational jet fighter the Messerschmitt Me 262.
The F-86 was instrumental in denying air superiority to the Chinese during the Korean War during which it gained a reputation as a Mig killer achieving a kill ratio of 10:1 against the Soviet built Mig-15. After the Korean War ended, many Sabres entered service with dozens of foreign air arms; becoming the most produced Western jet fighter with a total of 9,860 built.
The F-86 in the accompanying pictures was photographed during the 2007 Wings Over Miami Air Museum’s annual air show. This Sabre can be seen on display at the museum when not touring the national air show circuit.
“Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” depicts a fully restored WWI Sopwith Camel biplane and a Fokker Dr1 tri-plane that toured the US in the early 1970′s as a promotion for the Millbrook Bread Company. At the time, the company’s advertising used the “Snoopy” character from Charles Schultz‘s “Peanuts” comic strip; who had a “famous rivalry” with dreaded “Red Baron.”
I had the opportunity to see these beautifully restored antique aircraft perform a mock dogfight over the Hamburg Aerodrome in my home town of Hamburg, NY during their tour of the country. I was in the process of obtaining my private pilot license at the time, and had flown in and out of the Hamburg Aerodrome on a number of occasions.
These are photographs of a Consolidated PBY Catalina amphibious flying boat taken in May 2007 at the Wings Over Miami Air Museum’s annual air show. The aircraft is painted in the scheme of the famed Black Cats squadron of World War II.
Flying from the island of Guadalcanal, a squadron of black-painted PBYs that operated mainly at night wrote another proud chapter in the history of US Naval aviation. They were known as the “Black Cats.” Their victories led the way to the formation of other Black Cat squadrons who were also very successful. They were called “Black Cats” because they were US Navy Catalina patrol seaplanes. They were painted flat black for night bombing operations against Japanese shipping in the Southwest Pacific. In the daytime, they flew air-sea rescue missions, picking up ditched air crews and pilots.