Recently, the Planes of Fame Air Museum held its 2017 Warbird Airshow. The Planes of Fame Museum, in Chino California, is a hot spot for the warbird scene, and is a regular attraction for some of the top warbird fliers in the country. This year’s show was estimated to have had 26,000 attendees, according to Harry Geier, Planes of Fame Director of Marketing and Development.
The show featured once in a lifetime chances to see rare examples of military aircraft. Some of the warbirds flown were the last flyable examples of their respective lines. Such aircraft included the wooden Northrop N9M flying wing, a Boeing P-26 pursuit from circa-1993, and the only flyable Seversky AT-12, a model based on the P-35 pursuit plane of the late 1930s. The show also featured two Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters, from the early 1940s, flying side by side. One of the fighters was special because it was one of only a handful of Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters still running on its original Japanese Sakae radial engine. The World War II Convair PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber from the mid 1940s also made an appearance at Chino from Arizona. It remains the last flyable example of its line.
Other scarce warbirds that made appearances included two Douglas Dauntless dive bombers, a FM-2 Wildcat, a P-38 Lightning, a TBM Avenger, a P-63 Kingcobra, two Yak-3s, two B-25s, three Curtiss P-40s, five Vought Corsairs, and many others. Two Douglas C-47 Dakotas flew daily to represent World War II in the skies. One of three twin-engine F7F Tigercat fighters present at the show flew daily. Viet Nam planes were represented in the skies by a Douglas Skyraider, and a North American Texan trainer. Flying jet warbirds also made appearances at the show. A F-86, T-33, and MiG-15. a new Lockheed F-35 jet fighter were present to represent. The Lockheed F-35 from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, flew heritage formations with vintage warbird pilots in P-51s, a P-38, and a F-86.
While there was a very strong focus of the warbirds, the show also made sure to honor World War II veterans. Daily interviews and a re-enactors’ encampment were held daily. The veterans were not the only ones honored and remembered. Each day when the show opened, four museum fighters would perform a missing-man formation in memory of Planes of Fame Museum founder Edward T. Maloney, who died last year at age 88.