The World War II aircraft of Houston’s Texas Flying Legends Museum will perform at the 25th anniversary of the St. Barths Bucket Regatta March 24-26. “When the opportunity was presented to perform at the Bucket Regatta in 2011, we were very excited to make this mission a reality. However, to accomplish the trip to St. Barths and back, we would have to cross more water than had ever been attempted since World War II in these planes. Combined with the necessary licenses required to make such a trip possible, we had to pull all our resources together to ensure success,” said Museum President Chris Griffith. The 70-year old aircraft will fly 1,100 nautical miles from Houston to St. Maarten for the three-day race, and back.
Attendees of the show will have the opportunity to see “Dakota Kid II,” a P-51D Mustang flown by Gene Soucy, the “Aleutian Tiger,” a P-40K Warhawk flown by Warren Pietsch, “Whistling Death,” a Goodyear FG-1D Corsair flown by Bob Odegaard, and “Betty’s Dream,” a B-25J flown by Doug Rozendaal and Hank Reichert. In addition to these planes, the museum has one of only two flying Japanese Zeros left in the world, and “Little Horse”, a P-51D stable-mate of Dakota Kid II.
Arrindell Aviation Services in St. Maarten is the museum’s choice for hosting its base-of-operations for the entire stay while flying the Bucket Regatta. “Arrindell Aviation has received many honors, such as the number one FBO on St. Maarten and number five FBO in the Caribbean, by Pro Pilot Magazine. They are a natural choice for us because of their reputation, and customer service. And, they have exceeded our expectations with their help and support for this trip,” said Griffith.
The planes will take off from Arrindell Aviation to perform a formation fly-by every morning over St. Barths, and then return to St. Maarten. Every afternoon the planes will leave again to perform a 20-minute air show over Shell Beach, St. Barths, after each day’s race.
In addition to performing in the air over St. Barths, the Flying Legends will be available for public viewings with their pilots at Arrindell Aviation between noon and 2 pm every day. Remarked Frank Arrindell, “we are thrilled to be welcoming these fine pilots and their incredible aircraft at Arrindell Aviation, and will most certainly make them feel comfortable in the Kingdom of The Netherlands.”
The first Nantucket Bucket was a casual race between seven of the largest yachts in New England, organized by the owners and crews to see which yacht was fastest. The winning trophy for this competition between the most expensive yachts in New England was a tin bucket of no value, which became an icon in yachting circles. The event was repeated in 1987, then gained popularity and stature with each consecutive year. The racing was decidedly the second focus, behind the camaraderie between the crews and the sight of these magnificent sailing machines being sailed to full potential.
By 1995, the event had gained enough traction that five of the yachts got together and set up another informal race and rendezvous in and around St. Barths. Here too, the focus was on the social side of the race course but as with all professional sailors, the seamanship was always of the first order. Like Nantucket, the venue was perfect for the competition and festivities.
Since then, the Bucket Regattas have gained exponentially in stature, the yachts in the fleet have also grown to a maximum of 287 feet, with the smallest yacht required to be 100 feet, unless invited by dispensation by the Race Committee. The fleet has grown in number as well, with 38 yachts and nearly 1,000 in crew. This has become the second largest event on the St. Barths calendar each year.
The Club Aeronautique of St. Barths was formed this year to make this first time aerial performance a reality and to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Bucket Regattas.
Based out of Ellington Field in Houston, Texas, the Texas Flying Legends Museum flies its growing collection from Texas to North Dakota each spring, to Maine each summer, and back to Texas in the fall. The museum’s mission is to acquire the best flying World War II aircraft available today.