Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grumman Guardian!

DH's friend in KC who is both a trainspotter, and planespotter, knew right away what the mystery plane at Toco was!  This is the ultra rare Grumman Guardian!

The Grumman Guardian was the original USN anti-sub warfare plane built specifically for that purpose.  It came in two different airframes, the Hunter (aka Guppy) and the Killer (aka Scrapper).  This particular plane is a Killer.  Note the bomb bay doors which are opened.  The Hunter variant had a radome underneath instead.  There were only 193 planes in the Killer configuration ever built.

A few weeks ago, this plane was in full Navy colors.  The tail color is more likely the dark navy blue, not black.  It also had the distinctive 4 bladed prop mounted at that time.  Apparently, someone is refurbishing her.  I'd love to get a serial# off her because there are only 5 known surviving Guardians.  This one is none of them, as far as I can tell.

Airworthy  (source Wikipedia)
On display
  • 123100 - National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida. It was the seventh AF-2S produced. The aircraft was operated as a firefighter until 1978. It was acquired by the museum in 1980. It is displayed in the colors of its first Navy assignment, though still carries the number "30" on the cowling, which for many years was the aircraft's call-sign as a firefighting aircraft;[14]
  • 129233 - Pima Air MuseumTucson, Arizona. This aircraft is displayed as it appeared while serving as an aerial firefighter with Aero Union in California. During this period the distinctive empennage with twin vertical stabilizers on each horizontal tail were removed to make a more conventional appearance.[15]
  • 126731 - Static display at the Commemorative Air Force's Mesa facility in Mesa, Arizona as a memorial to VAdm James B. Stockdale, who flew this aircraft early in his Navy career.[16][17]

What she is doing in Toco, at a tiny airfield, (besides being refinished apparently) is unclear.  Why in Toco?  What is here, that drew the owner to bring an ultra rare plane here?  I know there is an extensive warbird history at this field, but that was a LONG time ago.  I don't know if she flew in here, or was trucked in, but I bet there is a good story in there somewhere!


Per a wise gentleman on the web, who linked me some information on this plane, I know this is #126792 previously based in Ocala FL.  Also known as N9995Z, and based on the newest registry of record, it now makes sense why she is in Toco.  Mystery solved!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

November 255 Sierra

It's always been a bit of a mystery to me, this plane, parked in a field on the edge of Hwy 82 at Toco.  There's a couple small hangars and some light aircraft, like Cessnas, in the back.  But this big ol' girl just sits there, intact, but showing the wear and tear of the unsheltered in Texas, her paint fading, her tail holier than swiss cheese now.

Today, on the road home from a doctor visit in Sherman, I could resist the siren call no more.  I turned down the barely paved road that runs past the airport, such as it is...

I was hoping to get a tail number off her, and maybe if I was lucky, to see the blue Navy warbird that has been parked outside one of the hangars, for most of this year.  Neither DH nor I could ID the Navy bird, so I was hoping to photograph it.

Despite her condition, I find her rather photogenic.  I was rushed to take these shots, and being limited to my cellphone for a camera.  As I pulled down the road beside her, I was able to make out that most-essential bit of information, her tail number.  November 255 Sierra.  Now I had her!
The plan was to look the number up online, and see what I could find.  Little did I know what a fascinating set of links this mere number would unveil!   While I was there, I managed a longer range shot of another aircraft.  I couldn't pull a tail number off it, and it's obviously not flight worthy at this moment, as it is missing the prop!  Still, I can see it was apparently once military, there being a white star in the faded blue on the wings, and the SM in the black on the tail.  However, I don't recognize what type of plane it is.  Do you?  If you do recognize it, please let me know in the comments section.
I tried a reverse image search on this plane, to no avail.  Any help would be much appreciated.

Once home, I used my Google-fu, and discovered the history of N255S.  What was so fascinating was not so much the plane, as the place!  The Flying Tiger Air Museum used to operate out of this little dirt strip field (yes I know the runway is somewhat paved...).

The man who owned and ran it, was a former stunt pilot, with a bit of Hollywood history to his resume.  He also had quite the collection of flight worthy warbirds!  On top of it all, the planes were not just to look at, like static displays--oh no, you could FLY THEM!  Yes, plunk down your money, and Mr Burchinal could teach you to fly warbirds!  At various times, there was a B-17, a B-25, an SNJ, a T-6, a P-38, F-86 Sabre, a Corsair, and the creme de la Creme, a P-51 Mustang!  How many of these were flight ready I am unsure, though I did find a link to a lengthy write up of one man's experience studying under Mr Burchinal and eventually soloing the Mustang.  Sadly, such a flight school could no longer exist in today's litigious world...

Alas, the museum eventually closed, Mr Burchinal passed away, and the aircraft were mostly sold off.  A little piece of Texas history, and American history died with it.  I wish I had been around here, back then, to see it all.  It would've been glorious!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rain, anyone?

Yesterday was just a tad bit wet.  The rain, which is  forecast to plague bless us all this week started falling at 8:00am.  By 9:00am, there were 2" in the gauge.  By 10:00am, it was over 4".  By noon it was over 5".

All that rain meant we had to set the sump pump out, to drain the water from the back side of the house, lest it flood Monkeyboy's room.  DH was getting dressed to go out, and I decided to get out there quickly, as the water was rising.

 So I lifted the sump cover and dropped the pump into the hole.  Then I went to lay out the discharge hose.  As I was coming back to the pump to attach the hose, I misjudged where the sump hole was (being full fo muddy water made it hard to see) and I stuck my left leg smack in the hole.  I sort of fell over.  Nothing broke, or got sprained, at least in the hip-to-foot region.  My low back however, is distinctly unhappy about it.

We eventually opted to install our other pump, one with a float switch.  That meant we didn't have to manually plug in the power to the original pump any more.

I spent most of yesterday taking it easy, napping and laying on the heating pad.  This morning, it felt pretty good.  Though it is a bit tired and achy late this afternoon.  And after the morning rains of yesterday, we got yet another 3/4" last night, and this afternoon yet more rain,this time being just over 1/2" in about 20 minutes!  It's a good thing I backwashed the pool today, as it probably would've overflowed otherwise.