Air Show Report : Planes of Fame Airshow 2017 - Chino, CA
Planes of Fame Airshow 2017 - Chino, CA
Michael Cleaver reports on the Planes of Fame Airshow that took place on May 6-7 in this 60th anniversary year of the Air Museum.
The US Air Force's newest fighter, the F-35A Lightning II, met the WWII-era P-38 Lightning in the Heritage Flight.
The 60th Anniversary of Planes of Fame Air Museum
In 1957 Edward T Maloney founded “The Air Museum”, and effectively began the aircraft preservation business. A lot of airframes were being destroyed following the end of the Second World War, and Ed Maloney felt more of them should be preserved for the benefit of future generations and so began rescuing them.
Back then aviation museums didn’t exist as we would know them today, and Ed Maloney was doing this virtually on his own, a true pioneer. But as well as preserving the airframe, he also wanted the aircraft to remain flyable, and so with like-minded volunteers began the restoration of the museum’s aircraft to flight worthy status. We have to thank Mr Maloney and others like him for rescuing so many of them from the scrapyard and preserving an important part of aviation history for us to enjoy.
Another well-known name associated with The Planes of Fame story is pilot Steve Hinton, he spent a large amount of his youthful free time at the fledgling museum, and became friends with Jim Maloney, Ed’s son. He established the aircraft restoration company “Fighter Rebuilders” in 1980, and is currently President of the Planes of Fame Museum.
Planes of Fame located at the Chino Municipal Airport, now has over a hundred-strong collection of warbirds and rare aircraft on display, and also a good-size collection at its location in Valle, Arizona. The Planes of Fame collection includes some rare one of a kind aircraft. An example of the Bell YP-59A Airacomet, the first American built jet powered aircraft, sits in the hangar under restoration by museum volunteers. Another hangar contains the Douglas Skyrocket D-558-II. The airframe is the No.1 ship – Douglas built only three. This one was flown in 1956 by NACA pilot Jack McKay.
After achieving so much, Ed Maloney sadly passed away in 2016. So it was that the 2017 show is the 60th Anniversary of the museum, and the first without his presence.
The Planes of Fame Airshow
This was my first time at the airshow and it is hugely enjoyable, a top flight event that could be compared to Flying Legends in Duxford England. Besides the flyable aircraft of the museum the show also invites other warbirds. On this year’s list were ten Mustangs, five Corsairs, a Spitfire, three Curtiss Warhawks, the only flying Boeing P-26A Peashooter, a rare Seversky AT-12 Guardsman, P-63 Kingcobra, of course the Lockheed P-38J Lightning, two F7F Tigercats, the experimental Northrop N9MB Flying Wing, two B-25 Mitchell bombers, and a PB4Y-2 Privateer, the AD-4N Skyraider, the Swiss Pilatus P2-06, two Yak-3s, a D3A ‘Val’ (BT-15 conversion) and two A6M ‘Zero’s (one with its original Sakae 31 engine), a SBD-5 Dauntless and TBM-3E Avenger, F6F-5 Hellcat and a Martlet (FM-2), two Sea Fury’s,. and two DC-3s. Also on the list were the classic jets; F-86F, MiG-15, and CT-133. Plenty of “runway fun!” Of course there were some interesting static aircraft as well, including a the OV-1A Mohawk and a Focke Wulf FW 190A (new-build).
This year the air show also celebrated the F4U Corsair, and as already noted five attended from various owners in the US: The Planes of Fame’s own F4U-1, Erickson Aircraft Collection’s F4U-7, Chuck Wentworth’s FG-1D, Dan Freidkin’s F4U-4 and Rod Lewis’s FG-1D.
Billed performers included Jelly Belly Cadet piloted by Kent Pietsch and is always very entertaining with bits of the aircraft falling off! (designed to by the way), a Zlin 142c piloted by Rob Harrison aka the Tumbling Bear, the first public demonstration of the new GB1 GameBird aerobatic aircraft, Greg Colyer’s polished performance in the Planes of Fame CT-133, Denis Saunders in his beautiful Sea Fury with smoke generators and a perfect illustration of wing tip vortices, and the USAF F-35 Heritage Flight Team flying the Lightning II with its namesake P-38 Lightning and two P-51 Mustangs.
The Museums Mission is to “preserve aviation history, inspire interest in aviation, educate the public, and honour aviation pioneers and veterans”. To underline this there were a number of WWII veteran panel discussions during breaks in the flying.
The weather was variable with a forecast that predicted cloudy conditions on Saturday and a storm on Sunday! As it turned out for the most part there was variable amounts of sun and cloud on both days which made, at times, for some interesting backgrounds. I used the area near the media enclosure on the Saturday which was ideally located for topside shots with aircraft banking around the corner onto the flight line. However because of the number of static aircraft on the ground, there was some restriction to visibility for take-off shots, which could only be taken through a gap in the statics.
On Sunday I used the grandstand on the flight line that overlooked the P-51’s which was a good alternative to the area near the media enclosure and provided a variation in the type of image that could be obtained. I enjoyed the fact that several runways were used for take-offs and landing this also helped with getting a variety of images. The two main runways are aligned East-West, however there is also one that runs South West to North East. All runways were use over the two day airshow.
The pilots do their utmost to present the aircraft so that the best topside shots are available, and this means they can come close enough for a 300mm lens to be adequate for most purposes.
Don’t Let Them Stop Your Airshow
This year’s edition of Planes of Fame Air Show was notable not only for being the museums 60th anniversary, but also as the event was threatened with being stopped by other tenants on the airport.
In an unprecedented situation an injunction filed by several other organisations that use Chino Airport, threatened to halt the show and overshadow the celebrations. These tenants were not happy about the disruption to their business activities that the show caused. It seems likely that there will be a continuing challenge from some airport tenants as to how the Planes of Fame organises the show and maintains access during the run up to the show for local businesses.
This is definitely an airshow I would like to attend again. Over 35,000 people attended over two days to see an impressive line-up of warbirds and there were some excellent photographic opportunities. I look forward to 2018 and the hope that the Planes of Fame and its neighbours can sort out their differences without further legal action!
Report and photos by Michael Cleaver ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 10 June 2017