Around the Airport

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Remarkable Unseen Color Footage of Postwar Air Racing

Bill Brennand is one of those guys who got things done and made them happen. Unfortunately, his name is also one of the many that are now, for the most part, unknown to the pilot population at large.  For him and many others like him I dream of a renewed interest in real aviation history.  We've simply had enough P-51 and Chuck Yeager stories to last a multitude of lifetimes.  Maybe Bill's amazing films will help?
If you don't know the name Bill Brennand, don't feel bad.  Aviation as a whole has done a poor job of keeping our best history alive in the minds of others.  Thankfully though, if the desire exists in you, it is still possible to learn about the untold history of aviation. Pick up a random published work at a place like the EAA store, subscribe to what I call small batch publications like WWI Aeroplanes and Skyways, or randomly pick a word or phrase like "air racing" and plug it into google and read until you hit a reference then follow or google that reference and so on until it's 3am.  These are great ways to learn the untold stories of aviation and to find memories like those which belong to Bill Brennand.
Fortunatley for you, Bill is one of those people who wrote a book.  Here's what the Amazon listing says about it, "As a promising young pilot working for air racing legend Steve Wittman, Brennand won the Goodyear Trophy at the National Air Races in 1947 without ever flying a practice course. He went on to out-fly veteran air race pilots and was in the winner's circle many more times. Retiring from air racing and air shows at age 26, he started flying one of the first corporate executive transport aircraft. Later he ran his own airport at the height of general aviation, oversaw one of the most remarkable aircraft restorations of all time with his Stinson Tri-Motor and through a curious twist of fate helped the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) develop one of the world's busiest seaplane bases".  Sounds like history in the making doesn't he?
Thanks to Mr. Brennand's book many of our grass roots aviation stories were preserved in print. Now though it turns out there's more to the story.  Bill did something else for us; he made color film of post-war air races and airshows.  That's right, he took rare color film of these events and many years ago he had them converted to DVD.   There helping him was Jessica Voruda (note-from a younger generation).
Recently she was thinking about those videos, mostly unseen by the masses, and she decided to put them online and provide a link so that others could see what this time in aviation was like. Be sure to watch them.  Even she didn't realize they contained footage of the aircraft that put an end to The Cleveland Air Races.  In one scene you can even see the smoke rising from the crash.
So there you have it; thanks to Bill's documentation and Jessica's desire to have others see the historical films, we now have something really cool added back into the title "history".
The crash that put an end to it all.
And one last thing; I think it is important to point out how someone from a "younger generation" has helped with the preservation of this history.  I talked to Jessica today and it seems Bill and her might very well be getting together to add some narration and put it all together into one production; wait and see (thanks Jessica, and Bill, if you're reading this, it's a great idea).  The important thing is that younger folks and their technology are often put down when in reality, if seen in the proper light, they could very well be our sport's saving grace.  Keep that in mind the next time you poo poo someone like that. 
Super Corsair on its nose.
If you missed all the links to the videos above, click here to see them.  When you're done, look toward the bottom of this post and you'll see a little envelope icon with an arrow on it.  If you want to share it with others, you can email it by clicking on that icon or you can use the other icons to post it to social networks.

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