Saturday, March 13, 2021

Walt Bowe's Vega

When I set out to write about Walt Bowe’s Lockheed Vega I had no idea how difficult it would be. I wrote one piece and scrapped it. I then rewrote it only to scrap that one too. The third time I had something to start with.

Three or thirty revisions later, I had something I was willing to show a few friends. They said it was tolerable so I massaged it a little more, added a few things that made me laugh, and submitted to defeat. What I ended up with was what you see in Vintage.

When I write about an aircraft I usually have some sort of attachment to them, typically from flying the machines themselves. This was different. This piece was the kind of article you see day in and day out about somebody else’s aircraft and story – the kind that drive me nuts.

Why do I dislike them?

This type article is typically a matter of fact, cookie cutter, rehash of information everyone has seen a million times before. There’s nothing fun or personal other than a few quotes and the whole things is really nothing more than an extensive caption for great photos. However, there’s another reason I don’t like them. They’re difficult.

I have friends who can crank out one of these in under thirty minutes and submit it ready to go. Not me. It feels like I am trying to bed down someone whose mind I find boring. Fortunately, some people are into that and they produce the vast population of articles you see. I’ve decided never to do that again.

What I’d really enjoy doing is video based stories of flying these old machines, or maybe a political YouTube channel based around telling voters how stupid they are and how not to be so dumb. Unfortunately, I’ve a face for radio and a voice for print. That leaves me with writing – the telegraph of 2021.

***Thanks to the crew at Vintage, and Scott Slocum, for getting images that demanded a big caption. I really liked the one trailing fuel. It made me chuckle as that is the reality of old aircraft and I'm glad it wasn't left on the cutting room floor. And more importantly, thanks to Walt for correcting a wrong and flying the grand old girl once again.

Note: I have one factual story left to tell - the story of the sole remaining Northrop Alpha in private hands.  It would be a great follow up to this Lockheed story. The Vega was born in the mind of Jack Northrop, who created what many consider to be one of the most significal aircraft of all time - the Northrop Alpha.  If you've ever confused Northrops and Lockheeds, that's the reason why. Externally, to the untrained mind, many of them appear identical.

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