2012 Cable Airshow – Birddog Style

On January 7, 2012 at 6:00 am, I made my way to the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California. There, I was to be a passenger in the museum’s Cessna L-19 Birddog that was scheduled to be on static display the Cable Airshow in Upland, California. To say I was excited to fly in the Birddog, let alone to an airshow, and with my good friend at the controls for his first airshow, would be an understatement.

The Aircraft 

The Planes of Fame Air Museum's Cessna L-19 Birddog.

The L-19 was designed for the U.S. Army as a light observation aircraft. It was used as an artillery spotting platform, medevac, and pilot training in the Korean and Vietnam wars. The U.S. Army retired the Birddog in 1974. The Planes of Fame Air Museum has an excellent flying example of one of the 3,200 plus Birddogsthat were built during the 1950s.

The Pilot

Planes of Fames newest warbird pilot - Scott Turner (Photo by Andrea Eldridge)

My good friend, Scott Turner was to pilot our Birddog today. Scott is a senior captain with a major airline and a museum volunteer since 2008. Scott started off at the museum washing and waxing airplanes and then moved up to ground crewing “Wee Willie II.” In 2010, Scott was given his first restoration project – The museum’s OV-1 Mohawk. Turner is expecting to have the Mohawk flying in late 2012. In early 2011, the museum’s chief pilot, Kevin Eldridge, asked Scott to fly the Birddog.  Several months later, Scott’s dream of piloting a Planes of Fame aircraft was realized.

The Flight 

My backseat view!

At 7:00 am we pushed the 1,600 pound Cessna out of the hanger and Turner started his pre-flight. While Scott pre-flighted, I took photos that would document Scott’s first airshow as a Planes of Fame pilot. Once the pre-flight was done it was time to depart for our 8 mile trip to Cable airport. From the backseat of our Birddog, I snapped away, trying to get some interesting shots of Scott at the controls. The L-19 was a great little airplane to fly in. It had exceptional visibility, surprisingly spacious for a small aircraft, and overall very exciting to fly in. I imagined what courage the pilots had, flying these L-19s (small, non-armored, and lightly armed) over the hostile skies of Korea and Vietnam. Cruising at 100 mph, we arrived at Cable airport in less than 15 minutes. We taxied in, parked, and enjoyed the airshow.

The Airshow

Overhead at Cable Airport.

On final to Cable Airport.

This was the 37th Cable Airshow that featured world class pilots and aircraft. Pilots that included 17 year old Sammy Mason flying his 1941 Stearman, Frank Donnelly aerobatics, Doug Jardin and his Sbach 342, and the legendary Clay Lacy and his very orange “Super STOL” Pilatus. In addition, there were air demos by the Commemorative Air Force’s AN-2 (the world’s largest bi-plane) and C-53 (which was the drop shop for the airshow skydivers). The day was filled with other flying from a large variety of aircraft that included T-6 Texans, home built planes, and a demonstration from the Corona Remote Control Model Club.

In addition to the fabulous flying, there was a car show, historical vehicle parade, and what would any airshow be without great food. Those attending the show had a wide variety of outstanding food to choose from – smoothies to sausages, chicken bowl to funnel cakes, there was something for everyone.

The Flight Home

Crew Birddog! (Photo by Andrea Eldridge)

Taxiing out for departure (CAFs C-53 parked on our right).

At 3:45 pm, the Cable airport was open to general aviation traffic and time for us to depart. Once again we mounted up, taxied our Birddog to the runway, powered up, and off we went.  Airborne over the runway, Scott gave a “wing wag” to the crowd and then pointed the L-19 towards Chino. The trip home was just as exciting as our trip to Cable.

I would like to thank Scott Turner for inviting me to be his L-19 Birddog “backseater.” It was a great experience and it was a privilege to document my good friend’s first airshow as a Planes of Fame pilot.

Information on the Planes of Fame Air museum can be found at their website (www.planesoffame.org) and additional information on the L-19 Birddog can be located at the International Birddog Association website (www.ibdaweb.com).

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