Well… It’s a new year and I have finally gotten my act together to sit down and write a bit. I’m hoping that I keep my head about me and stick to some of my goals for this new year, one of them is to write here more regularly. I have managed to start using my Twitter a little more effectively as of late to find some further networking and education opportunities as well as to share some thoughts on aviation and museums. While it’s great to get things out quick and in a succinct manner, the Twitter format leaves much to be desired when you need a little extra room for explanation. That brings me right back to the reason why I started writing here in the first place…So that really was just a circuitous way to say that I will make more of a conscious effort to use this forum in conjunction with Twitter rather than as a completely different thing.
Rolling into the new year, it’s the time again where people make resolutions; many of which are geared toward some personal or professional growth or other maintenance of their lives. In the world of aviation, for those that fly on the airshow circuit or those museums that have flying collections (in the northern hemisphere at least), this is also a time of year for reflection, planning, and work. There tend to be 2 distinct times of years for these organizations, there is “Flying Season” and also “Maintenance Season”.
Flying season is the part of the year where the aircraft, pilots, and crews are out flying to bring aviation experiences and history to life. This is the time of year that is the most visible, where these folks are out all over the country (and the world) to project their mission in the most visible way possible. Flying season will typically run from the late Winter months through the Fall. (I just saw the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron has posted the first part of Fifi’s schedule for this year. She will start her flying this year in late February)
The rest of the year is Maintenance Season. During this part of the year, all the aircraft will undergo extensive maintenance and annual inspections. This part of the year is definitely not as glamorous or public as the flying season, but it is probably the most critical part of the operation. During the annual maintenance A&P folks will pour over the airplanes and ensure that they are in pristine shape in order to ensure that these aircraft are in tip top shape and most of all safe. The ultimate goal is to keep these aircraft flying as a tribute and a living history. The annual maintenance is where a virtual army of unsung heroes, volunteers and professionals alike, lend their expertise to ensure that this goal is met year after year.
For aviation nerds such as myself, seeing an aircraft in annual maintenance is just as exciting as going to an airshow to see it fly. It’s like a behind the scenes tour. You get to see under the skin of these great machines and see all the greasy, dirty, complex, and surprisingly beautiful parts and systems that make up the whole. You can get an insight into design, operation, and routine maintenance that lets you really connect to the history of the men and the machines.
Many museums will post pictures of aircraft in maintenance with descriptions as to what is happening. The best follow for me during maintenance season is definitely The Flying Heritage Collection. It seems that this year especially (or maybe i’ve just been paying closer attention), the FHC’s Instagram account is a goldmine for the prophead/Avgeek.
So here’s a big thank you to all those that take the time to learn the knowledge and skill it takes to maintain old airplanes. Your unsung hard work brings untold joy to millions every year.
I also wanted to mention that if things go to plan, this year will also be a big year for some great aircraft to return to the skies after some years of great restoration work. This article from Warbird News is a great write up on the B-29 “Doc” being restored in Kansas getting ready to return to the wild blue. Hopefully I can find a way to get to Oshkosh to see Doc and Fifi together. What a sight and sound that will be! I have also seen that the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation is getting close to returning their C-97G (one of my personal favorite aircraft) to flight status. Hopefully they’ll have the “Angel of Deliverance” back in the air this year as well.
All in all, things are looking exciting this year. Lots to look forward to!
Until next time,
Clear Skies and Tailwinds.