The Commemorative Air Force puts on a great air show featuring Second World War aircraft.
The “Wings Over Dallas” air show is the largest annual event held at the headquarters of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). The show took place at the Dallas Executive Airport, located in Dallas, Texas. This year’s show was held on October 25-28, but due to bad weather and a low ceiling, flight operations were scrubbed on Friday Oct. 25.
Created in 1961, CAF is a non-profit corporation, whose mission in part is, “…to acquire, restore, maintain and operate a collection of World War II and other historical aircraft.” Starting with a single P-51 Mustang, the CAF fleet has grown to more than 175 vintage warbirds. The Commemorative Air Force is composed of 84 units spread across the United States as well as New Zealand, Switzerland, and France.
As with most air shows, the day’s fun kicked off with trainer aircraft flying circuits about the field. There were four Stearmans taking part, which were either United States Army Air Force PT-17 Kaydets or United States Navy N2Ss. The primary trainers were joined by four advanced trainers, in the form of an AT-6 Texan and two SNJs. Additionally there was a single BT-13 Vultee Valiant, also known as the “Vultee Vibrator”.
United States Navy and Marine Corps warbirds were ably represented by the: SBD Dauntless, FG-1D Corsair, FM-2 Wildcat, F6F Hellcat, F8F Bearcat, and a PBJ, the Navy designation for the B-25 bomber.
Throughout the show, one could enjoy two very unique aircraft, those being the B-29 Superfortress FIFI and the B-24 Liberator Diamond Lil. Both aircraft are one of only two of their types flying in the world. FIFI was saved from a Navy bombing range in 1971 and after three years was brought back to airworthy status. Diamond Lil was the 25th B-24 built and spent the war years as a transport and research aircraft for the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation.
One very special treat was the “Tora! Tora! Tora!” air show within an air show. As a matter of background, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” is Japanese for “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” This was the code word transmitted by Japanese pilots indicating that they had achieved surprise, in the Pearl Harbor attack. Also, the word Tora has a dual meaning not only as Tiger, but it is an abbreviation of “TOtsugeki RAigeki” (突 撃雷撃) which means “lightning attack.”
The “Tora! Tora! Tora!” show was accompanied by a most impressive pyrotechnic display perfectly timed with the acrobatics of the aircraft taking part. The “Japanese” aircraft in the show were in actuality highly modified AT-6 Texans and BT-13 Valiants that were used in the 1970 movie of the same name “Tora! Tora! Tora!”.
Afterwards the medium bombers took to the air as two A-26 Invaders and Marine PBJ, aka B-25, flew individual passes. Then there were impressive individual acrobatic displays by Gunfighter, a P-51D Mustang, as well as a very rare P-63F Kingcobra.
Throughout the show, one witnessed various warbirds giving rides to excited passengers. These passenger flights are vital, as they provide some additional revenue to offset the high cost of keeping these examples of living history flying.
Even with the weather and cancellation of flight operations on Friday, the “Wings Over Dallas” air show was an impressive display of aircraft from the Second World War. Plus the weather cooperated on Saturday and Sunday. As a photographer, it was also a treat to be able to shoot from the top of bleachers set up for the show. Being able to gain some elevation is always a plus when trying to capture quality images at air shows. Should you be in Dallas, Texas during the month of October, I highly recommend you make time to attend the show.