Monday, June 4, 2012

Fairey Firefly Gear Collapse

Photo by Chris Moore
This weekend at The Wings Over Gillespie Airshow, the only operating Fairey Firefly in the US suffered a gear collapse on landing. To the typical airshow attendee this may look like a disaster. The same person may also fall prey to the notion that operating airplanes like this places them in unreasonable danger and therefore maybe they shouldn't be flown. Myself, I think we should fly and rebuild them until the very last one is no more.
Already today, a large and growing segment of aviation doesn’t even know their history or care if these old birds live or die. Society at large places no value on them and in fact a growing segment of that population despises the idea that some person of wealth could have the freedom to fly such an exotic aircraft. Meanwhile, some of our most prestigious museums strive to ground them forever, our government fears citizens who own them, and aviation’s best weapon is a few lobbying groups that always seem to fall on the side of politics vs. reason. What are we to do?
I’ll tell you what we do. We fight tooth and nail to keep these old girls flying; we support the people who spend their money to do so, and we enjoy every moment we have with them. We push for the easing of restrictions on aviation; we tell the people in DC to shove it up their collective rear end; we quit rolling over for the FAA and TSA; we put heat on the rule makers and bureaucrats until they walk down alleys looking over their shoulders, and we never ever quietly assume our alphabet groups are actually working in our best interests.
Here’s to you Captain Eddie and everyone else who keeps these old crates flying. If it weren’t for you a lot of people wouldn’t know the glory of these great machines. Our numbers may be dwindling but those of us who are left are willing to fight to help you keep them alive.
If you want to learn more about the Firefly, click here to see Captain Eddie’s website.


Charlie Gay said...

I agree they should be kept flying but during airshows displays keep a little altitude and stop doing dumb things. Example: I attended the Reading PA WWII Airshow this weekend on Saturday and watched the CAF perform in the show. One act was their red nose P-51D. I've watched many P-51 shows over the years and this one was not my favorite. It was fairly warm, windy bumpy. The pilot made a low pass and started into a series of loops each progressing from the east to the west. Each loop ended near the deck but the tops were getting lower and slower on each one. You could see the airplane visibly mush at the bottom of each loop and I told my wife I'd really rather not look because this may not end well. She also said that it looks like the sequence in every you tube accident video she sees. The 4th consecutive loop was obviously going to be too slow to make it and he had sense to allow the engine to roll the airplane when going over the top and a shallow 1/2 cuban. Why put the airplane or pilot at risk with high G low altitude pull outs. The average spectator has no appreciation for what is going on and a cuban 8 or shallow pull to level at 200 ft altitude is more visible for the crowd and nobody will fault the pilot. Quit risking the airplanes and your neck with risky maneuvers ending with no margin on the deck. Aerobatics are fine but give a little more margin. The old Pros like Howard Pardue, Bob Hoover, Frank Sanders did not do these types of things with fighters and had long careers with many exciting airshows. It's not an EXTRA or PITTS. Don't fly them like one. Charlie Gay Tunkhannock PA Skyhaven 76N

Anonymous said...

To me those who feel that these planes should not be flown are missing a couple very key pieces of logic. For those who say they should be in museums: if a museum wants one of them and wants to remove it from flying status all that museum has to do is but it. Now that is pretty simple, isn't it? Yes, we lose one now and then to a flying accident (we also lose them to tornados, etc.). But the key item overlooked here is that if they couldn't be flown they wouldn't even be in existence. Nearly all (if not all) of these flying planes have been restored and are maintained so they can be flown. If they couldn't be flown the millions spent on restoring and maintaining them would not have been spent and these valuable pieces of history would have disappeared long ago. Jim Oeffinger, Naperville, IL 8111D

H. Lee Griffin said...

As we used to say back in my old AF days; "I wholeheartedly concur with comments..."

I currently own and attempt to maintain the only flyable T-28 in Alaska. It keeps me out of the bars!!! Which is somewhat important in these frozen parts..

And I do it on a meager Civil Service stipend....

H. Lee Griffin
T-28B, N887N, Bu No 138202