World’s Most Beautiful Airplanes
OK! You guys finally did it (“The World’s Most Beautiful Airplanes,” November issue). I’ve been getting your magazine for years now, and have never written to any magazine till now. What beautiful photography, and what spectacular choices!
And where was the F-4 Phantom?
Whoever had the idea of not putting the pictures in numerical order deserves a raise. We readers (if we followed the number order like we should) had the privilege of seeing each plane multiple times as we read Stephan Wilkinson’s comments.
Every time Aviation History arrives in my mailbox, I read it from cover to cover in a day or two. Then it’s that long wait till the next issue. And each one seems to be better than the last. Keep up the good work.
I very much enjoy your fine magazine, but beyond the almost universal agreement that the Supermarine Spitfire is the most beautiful aircraft of all time, the rest of the list makes for a fine argument.
I suggest you compile a list of the most commonly suggested picks from readers. Here are mine:
McDonnell XP-67 “Moon Bat”—the most egregious omission from your list.
Bell P-63 Kingcobra—sleek enough to warrant postwar racers.
Vought F4U Corsair—simply a classic.
Messerschmitt Me-262—the shark profile and swept wings were striking.
…Imagine my shock and surprise that the famed de Havilland Mosquito was not included in your top 12.
…what about the Piaggio Avanti, P-51 Mustang, Cessna 310B, B-2 bomber and Beech V-tail Bonanza?
…the Napier Heston Type 5 Racer of 1939 and the de Havilland D.H.91 Albatross have often been described as the cleanest and most beautiful designs of all time.
…the Boeing B-47, Curtiss C-46 Commando, Hawker Hurricane, P-51 Mustang, P-38 Lightning, Boeing 707, Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, Convair B-58 Hustler. We all have our favorites for one reason or another, but your article made a lot of wingnuts sit back and go through history and pull out their favorites. Great job.
In reference to your September “Restored” article about the Military Aviation Museum’s D.H.89A Dragon Rapide, I am enclosing a picture [above] that may be of interest. It shows a Dragon Rapide in regular service in 1968 in New Zealand. It flew for ATA Ltd. from Queenstown to Milford Sound or Teanu. As you can see from the photo, at Milford Sound it took off from a dirt strip, sometimes into very strong winds, and circled the fjord twice to gain enough altitude to fly over it to Queenstown. I was privileged to be aboard.
Long Beach, Calif.
I enjoyed Stephan Wilkinson’s account of the “The Cornfield Bomber” in the September issue. I am quite familiar with the story, but Wilkinson added a couple of details that were new to me. However, he also got a couple of details wrong. He says the F-106 was moved by rail to storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, then repaired in the late ’70s and assigned to the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. It was in fact moved by rail to the Sacramento Air Materiel Area after the incident and repaired at that time, a process that took almost two years. It was then assigned to the 84th FIS at Hamilton AFB, Calif., arriving in January 1972. A little over a year later, in May 1973, it was transferred to the 49th FIS, where it served until the squadron was disbanded.
I was assigned to the 84th FIS as an F-106 pilot from June 1972 until June 1975. I flew the Cornfield Bomber three times on three consecutive days in January 1973. The squadron joke was that no one wanted to fly it cross-country because instead of going where the pilot wanted to go it just went where it wanted to go and landed. All in all, the Delta Dart was a wonderful airplane and remains to this day my all-time favorite.
Park City, Utah
September’s article “Spin Control” took me back to December 1946 at NAS Glenview, Ill., and my closest taste of airsickness. My instructor, Cliff Eaton, decided his “A” stage cadet’s coordination of “opposite rudder—forward stick” was not smooth enough. The solution was for us to climb up and spin down until it was.
I don’t know whether my coordination improved enough, but after several such maneuvers he finally said into the Gosport tube, “I think we’d better stop so you won’t have to clean up the airplane when we get back to the line.” I guess the rearview mirror, built into the upper wing of our Stearman, told him I was turning green. We stopped our spin drill. He continued instructing me on through the rest of primary training—the first student he had taken all the way.
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