TEXAS 2015
VINTAGE FLYING MUSEUM
»Fort Worth«

Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

Visiting Texas in november 2015 for music, aviation- and 'Old West Frontier' history, I had included several air museums in my itinerary.
Since music gigs were a bit hard to find in november, I consulted my 'Aviation Museums & Collections of N.America' (Air-Britain 2011, by Bob Ogden) and found a wealth of possibilities. The book listed 153 locations for museums, collections, memorials, colleges, etc!
Access varies greatly and this influenced my plans as my route was set.
The Vintage Flying Museum is open only on friday and the weekend, but I could easily combine it with a sunday visit to The Stockyards; hence I ended up at Meacham Field one late afternoon, Nov.22nd

 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Hangar 33 is what you'll be looking for on Meacham Field for the Vintage Flying Museum.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
After a nice chat with 'the receptionist' I made my way through an area that has memorabilia, paintings, etc on
display. I was offered help if I wanted to have something explained but I was rather anxious to make my way to
the hangar area. It seemed to me that this museum was more of a 'working hangar' and I like that a lot.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
A collection of WWII images showing (a.o.) women in various military forces of the US and Tuskegee Airmen.

 


 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Stinson L-5E Sentinel 44-17925 hanging from the rafters in the hangar

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Cessna 140 N4116N (c/n 13574) reg'd to Van Stokes Jr (Lake Worth,TX) since 26Oct1999; manufactured in 1947!

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Ryan PT-22 Recruit, N48748 (c/n 1683; ex/ 41-15654)

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Aerodrome Airplanes produced this kit of the Fokker Dr.I Triplane ('Dreidecker').
I had great difficulty in getting a decent photograph here; the fierce sun was one problem, I had to take steps
out of my way and the fact that one can look right through it did not help either! Fortunately, the fierce sun
produced a dark background in the back of the hangar, which helped to outline this Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
When finished Lt. Hans Weiss' Dreidecker should make an interesting WWI-exhibit

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Lt. Hans Weiss was a WWI flying ace with 16 aerial victories to his name.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
The name 'Richthofen' and the Fokker Dr.I are invariably linked, though 60 of his 80 confirmed victories
were achieved with other aircraft than the Dr.I Triplane, such as the Albatross D.III


 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
I was quite surprised to see Boeing B-29 'Fifi' here! And quite pleased too, of course!

It showed how the Commemorative Air Force moves its aircraft around and how relative the list I had from my Air-Britain book 'Aviation Museums & Collections of N.America' was to me: Convair 640s N3407 & N860FW were nowhere to be seen and the same for various other aircraft including AT-6D Texan N101NZ and B-25 Mitchell '29710'.
The 'Collection' as shown on the museum's website has more aircraft listed than I've here during my visit.
I was later told that another hangar can be visited under escort... Aaarggghh!!!

I also received the following from Chris Trott in Jan.2016: "The CV640s are gone....well mostly. Last I heard, the nose of one of them was in the hangar next door to the VFM and being turned into a simulator. The other aircraft was completely scrapped.
And N101NZ, the AT-6D you refer to, is still based at the VFM, but is owned by an individual who lives in Hillsboro,TX and may have taken the plane home or had it out for maintenance.
Also,The B-25 (aka Pacific Prowler) was sold a couple years ago to a new museum. owned by Scott Glover in Mount Pleasant,TX (www.midamericaflightmuseum.org). The plane has been repainted slightly and now flies as 'God and Country'."

CV640 N860FW is ex/ N7263, of which a photo can be seen on Bill Hill's vintage airliners, a gallery on my website.


Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Boeing B-29 'Fifi' is seen in its annual maintenance period.
The conversion (see below) was completed several years ago and it hass now flown 2 successful seasons with
the new engines and experienced only minor (or so I'm told) issues with them. -Chris Trott, Jan.2016

On Wikipedia I read:
"In a joint press release, dated 21 January 2008, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, announced a pledge of US$1.2M to re-engine FiFi, a B-29 Superfortress.
The pledge was made by Jim Cavanaugh, the founder of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum.
As a result of the contribution, FiFi will be returned to flight status, and the B-29/B-24 Squadron of the CAF will relocate its base from Midland, Texas to the Addison Airport, at Addison, Texas (KADS).
The B24 and the B-29 will, for the six months of each year they are not on tour, be kept and maintained at Addison."

When I prepared for this trip and tried to do an inventory on CAF locations and their openening times, I did learn about a reorganisation and a new or renovated site at Midland,TX was to become a central homebase. Opening was scheduled for April 2016.
It was one reason why I did not visit Midland on this particular trip. Rather save that for another day. Then I found (Jan.2016) that I had misunderstood the moce to Midland: it was Dallas Executive Airport that was the location for the new CAF National Airbase and corporate Headquarters! Thanks to Nigel Hitchman for point this out to me (see also www.commemorativeairforce.org/airbase)

 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
NX529B was reg'd to the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum on 10Sep1991.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

Built by Boeing at the Renton factory in Washington, B-29A serial number 44-62070 was delivered to the USAAF in Kansas in 1945.
Modified to a TB-29A standard, it served as an administrative aircraft before being placed in 'desert storage'.
It was returned to active duty in 1953.
Following retirement in 1958, Boeing B-29A, s/n 44-62070, as part of a group of 36 B-29s, placed at the US Navy Naval Weapons Center and bombing range at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, at China Lake,CA.
The Commemorative Air Force, then known as the Confederate Air Force, acquired it in 1971 and registered it
as a civilian aircraft. It was flown to CAF headquarters at Harlingen,TX on 03Aug1971 and re-registered as N529B in August 1981.
[Wikipedia, more...]

 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
From the B-29 we go to the Douglas DC-3 (C-47A), from 'Fifi' to 'Southern Cross'

 


 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

Actually, I had expected to find a Douglas C-47 here, but found C-47A N141JR (c/n 19366) replaced by Douglas DC-3 N87745 (c/n 6315), '411973 -T/T9'.
I have a note that this is actually a C-49J and has been modified with more powerful engines from a Grumman Albatros for speedy climb performance, to facilitate skydiving flights at some point.

Chris wrote me in Jan.2016: "N141JR wasn't the VFM's. It was owned by a 3rd party and while it stayed at the VFM, it was being slowly worked on for possible return to flight along with another aircraft.
Sadly, there was a very bad wind storm in 2012 and N141JR (and the other aircraft) got damaged pretty heavily. They have both been trucked away to other hangars and I've not heard anything new on them recently.
Information on the owner and what his plans were are here - http://thirsty13th.com/."
From that website I have the following info: "On 31Jul2013, Thirsty 13th LLC purchased building 880 at Lancaster Airport (LNC) in Lancaster, TX, with three 70ft x 70ft bays. Our C-47 'Billie' is in the middle bay, and the two side bays are leased."

Chris also wrote about "....N87745/'Southern Cross': the aircraft was built as a DC-3 with Wright R1820s to an American Airlines order and immediately pressed into service as a C-49J (43-1975). 
After WW2, it served with several airlines. 
When it got the 'hot' engines and other mods isn't clear, but I suspect it may have been when it came back from Mexico as photos not long afterward show it in a paint scheme that has been seen more commonly on the 'Super DC-3s' that sport the same engines. 
Here is a pic from 1984 of the aircraft - www.airliners.net/photo/Southern-Cross/Douglas-DC-3-G202A/1024031/L/ showing it with the current -17D engines. 
There was a project out there in the 1960's from Garrett AiResearch called the 'Maximizer' that included gear doors, a partially retractable tailwheel, and -17D engines. 
It is believed this aircraft received most, if not all, of the mods at some point; though most were later removed."
Gerben Groothuis sent me a 2011 photo of N141JR; see his gallery on my website: Gerben's Propliners & Warbirds

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

A few notes from my files on c/n 6315:
N87745 Zack B. Hinton Jr, airworthy at Griffin,GA Mar97.
Reg'd 21May03 Robert J.Metz, Valley Springs,CA.
Reported Jun04 under restoration of aileron damaged in a storm at homebase Tooele,UT. Used for ski-diving. Sighted Aug05 Rantoul,IL sky-diving fest, named 'Southern Cross'; owner named as 24-yrs old Patrick Terry. Sighted at Gainesville,TX on 24May08 in ok condition; painted in D-day colours.
Based at Ft.Meacham/Meacham Field since somewhere before Aug. 2009.
Reg'd 16Jan11 to 'Douglas 87745 LLC' (Patrick Terry of Cleburne,TX).
Seen attending 'Gathering of Warbirds& Legends' in Aug.2013 at Forbes Fld,KS and reportedly operated by operated 'Greatest Generation Aircraft' which is based Meacham Field, Ft Worth,TX.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
N87745 / 411973 is DC-3 c/n 6315

"Greatest Generation Aircraft is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit educational foundation that strives to give history a future! We operate as a flight activity center, not as a traditional museum; we believe the contribution of these planes to our country's history is better understood when they fly than when they sit static.
Greatest Generation Aircraft currently operates the DC3/C47 Southern Cross."
www.gga1.org

 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
'Southern Cross': beautiful nose-art on this Douglas DC-3!
Wasn't it at one time (briefly perhaps) named 'Prowler'?

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX


 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Greatest Generation Aircraft seems also involved with the restoration of this A-26K Invader 'Special Kay'.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Special Kay FAQ: Q: when will it fly A: when it's ready. Love it!
And on Sunday 12Mar17 their Facebook page showed a video of 'Special Kay' taxying and revving the engines!

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Douglas B-26K N4988N (c/n 27477) was reg'd 17Feb2012 to James 'Jim' Stanley Reynolds (Haltom City,TX)

"In May 1966, Detachment 1, 603d Air Commando Squadron deployed from England AFB, Louisiana to Nakhon Phanom (NKP) Air Base in Thailand. The detachment comprised 8 Douglas B-26K Counter Invader bombers and their crews which were to undergo combat tests in Laos.
An early glitch arose prior to their arrival when the Thai government expressed concern over having foreign 'bombers' on its soil. But Secretary of the Air Force Harold Brown finessed the problem smoothly by simply reclassifying the Big Eagle B-26Ks as 'attack' aircraft with their new designator 'A-26A'.

These K model -26s were a big improvement over the B models first issued to the Air Commandos in Florida during the early 1960s.
At a cost of US$13 Million, the On Mark Engineering Company in Van Nuys,CA, converted 40 Douglas Invaders to the upgraded K configuration. Rebuilt fuselage and wing components, more powerful engines, wingtip fuel tanks, additional wing pylons to carry more munitions, and improved avionics all combined to produce one of the most deadly fighting machines of the war in Laos.
From: www.warbirdsnews.com/warbird-restorations/a-26-special-kay-restoration.html

 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Mona? who is she when she's at home?
I was advised:" 'Mona' is the left engine. 'Lisa' is the right engine. Because that is what they cost to overhaul."

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

Some notes from my files:
Anno 1993 as N4988N with Lynch Air Tankers of Billings,MT. Tanker
Damaged during landing Winslow,AZ (left maingear) 14nov98, to be repaired
Lynch sold april 2001, repaired or not?
Orig A-26 44-34198, rebuilt A-26A and reg'd 64-17679
Rebuilt A-26A to B-26K by On Mark (for CIA?)
A report had a sighting probably around May 2002, with N4818E (?), but registration not seen, was in camo c/s
For sale at auction Oct01, but sold? Reported 20May02 at Billings,MT.

Stay informed on Special Kay's restoration: www.facebook.com/a26specialkay or www.facebook.com/invadersquadron Or you can visit here: http://warbirdinformationexchange.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=34145 (this will bring you to page 1, continue to last page - click link at bottom page, this thread shows over 200 pages!)

And here's some 2017 progress for you:
A-26 Special Kay in summer of 2017
A-26 'Special Kay' in summer of 2017


 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
And here we have another Invader! N240P was reg'd 05Sep91 to American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

A-26B serial 43-7140 was built in 1943 it was the 328th A26B built at the Douglas plant in Long Beach,CA.
It was delivered to the USAAF on 08Dec1944 and given the USAAF serial number of 41-39427.
On 13Mar1950, the aircraft was stricken from the USAF inventory and sold on the civilian market.

The aircraft spent 2 years in storage until Alex Oser, a scrap dealer bought it and 13 other A26's in Jan1952. On 19Mar52, the aircraft was sold to Texas Railway Equipment Co. of Houston; this aircraft being one of 9 sold to this company. Later, 7 of the aircraft ended up going to the French Air Force.

The aircraft went through major modifications in Apr53, when the aircraft was completely disassembled and all systems inspected and repaired or overhauled. It was at this time the aircraft was converted to an executive transport with many luxuries and modifications being done to the aircraft by Grand Central Aircraft Co. of Glendale,CA.

Barnwell Drilling Company of Shreveport, LA bought the A-26 on 30Dec61 and made further modifications to enhance the executive transport role.
During this time period, 1952-1967, the A-26 received best of care and maintenance from Barnwell and Texas Railway Equip Co. It is said that former Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson had flown on the aircraft as well as Jack Kennedy.
John Barnwell traded the A-26 on 07Feb67 for a larger Corvair 240 with Omni Investments. The registration
N-numbers were also swapped in the trade and Invader N75Y became Invader N240P.

Flight Test Research, Inc. of Long Beach,CA purchased the aircraft on 19Apr67 for $15,000.00 and the aircraft went home to where it was built 25 years earlier.

Ownership history and uses are a little sketchy from 1972 to 1977. But they must have been interesting since the aircraft was seized from drug-runners by the Sheriff's Dept in Amarillo on 10Jan77!
This occured after a pilot had landed the aircraft on one engine and walked away from the airplane. This clearly made the authoritie suspicious.
A testament to this story is that at a particular air show a few years ago, two gentlemen in dark sunglasses seemed rather intrigued by the airplane; finally one of the gentlemen approached a crew member and asked what color the aircraft had been before Ranger Wing acquired it. When told it was white with grey trim he exclaimed:
"My God it's the "Grey Ghost! We chased that sucker up and down the Gulf Coast! Never could catch him. He'd drop down on the deck and throttle the engines up and leave us standing there!"
The two gentlemen were DEA agents...

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

The A-26 was purchased by the Commemorative Air Force on 21Dec77 from the Amarillo Sheriff's Dept.
After numerous weekend trips to Amarillo, to prepare her for the flight to her new home, the A-26 was ferried to Waco on 11Sep80. Quite a feat since the Ranger Squadron had only held its first meeting as a CAF unit on 23Jun80 and only had 15 very dedicated members when assigned the A-26 by the Commemorative Air Force!
From:www.a26invader.com/n240p.html which also includes images to illustrate the above.

 

 


 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
I had actually 3 Beech18's on my list for this museum, but only found N7BS which is a 4th four as I had
listed N3761, N80152 & N197L. This one certainly looked in prime condition though the fierce sun
made it impossible to make a satisfying photograph.
Nigel Aylmer wrote me: "I was recently in Texas and on 22Jan2016 at Meacham Field. Both N197L and N3761 were
present: N197L in the storage hangar and N3761 outside in a compound at the end of the hangars."
I received an email, copied at bottom page, that I did not cover on this visit all that is to cover here!

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
For the history of this Beech E18S I had only one note in my database: 'N7BS, owner Bill Sign of Addison,TX:
attended the Great Warbirds Gathering at Topeka,KS during August 2013'. Since reregistered, as one can read below.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
N7BS I found has c/n BA-18, was manufactured in 1954 and was reg'd 01Sep2015 to Runyon Aviation LLC of Ft.Worth,TX

 


 

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Canadair CT-133 Silver Star N165KK is ex/ 21165 (Canada), 133165 (Canada) and has been
painted as a USAF Lockheed T-33A '50-429' of 43rd BW Carswell ATB,TX.

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX
Aero Falcon Knight Falcon N401ES and in the background the American Flea Ship, which was in production at Fort Worth.
The American Flea Ship (Flea Triplane) is a triplane design of the early 1930s; it is one of the first
examples of a female designed and built aircraft. See also Wikipedia

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field,TX

In Feb.2016 I received the following email:
"Sorry you did not see all the aircraft. They are in the North Hangar, which requires an escort.
Next time you come, just ask and we will be happy to take you over."
Sheila Doyle Crew Chief-CH21B
Vintage Flying Museum

 

 


 

LINKS
TEXAS 2015
The 1940 Air Terminal Museum at William P. Hobby (Houston) Airport
Lone Star Flight Museum / Vietnam War Flight Museum (Galveston)
Highland Lakes Squadron (CAF), Burnet
Ghost Squadron, Central Texas Wing, San Marcos
Texas Air Museum - Stinson Chapter (San Antonio)
Cavanaugh Flight Museum (Addison)

EXTERNAL
Commemorative Air Force (CAF) on Wikipedia
Vintage Flying Museum, Meacham Field

 

 

 

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