The weekend also featured standing-room-only presentations by World War II ace Bud Anderson, while Steven Hinton gave inspiring talks, describing what it takes to modify and fly the fastest piston-engine aircraft in the world.
And the hardware — oh yeah, the hardware: Hinton flew the modified Mustang “Voodoo” on a rare appearance outside of its California home; John Maloney flew the P-47D Thunderbolt “Dottie Mae,” and a host of pilots and owners came together to put aloft a five-ship formation of Curtiss P-40 Warhawks.
Five Mustangs — counting “Voodoo” — two Texans with a replicated P-64, one twin-engine F7F Tigercat, a TBM Avenger, and the Planes of Fame Air Museum’s B-25J Mitchell packed the ramp.
All told, 17 warbirds prowled the Idaho skies in flights of three to five at a time.
Solo sorties by Steven Hinton in the “Voodoo” racer could only hint at the speeds that modified machine is capable of.
Steven Hinton told a crowd of several hundred in the museum how the already-modified winning P-51 racer named “Voodoo” was groomed even further to become the speed-record challenger it is today. Steven’s enthusiasm was evident as he spoke, his bearing quick and athletic as he showed photos and video clips on a huge screen behind him.
Among the tricks used during the modification of “Voodoo” was the photographing of the Mustang’s reshaped propeller blades in motion by Go Pro cameras mounted near the hub end of the prop while tufts on the surface of the blades gave classic airflow visualization feedback.
Steven said the main sponsor for the speed record effort, Aviation Partners, brought its considerable skills to streamline “Voodoo” to make it even faster than its already 500 mph-plus speed capabilities.
Aviation Partners develops a range of efficiency-boosting winglets for airliners and corporate jets. “Voodoo” didn’t need winglets, but the basic Mustang wing airfoil was reshaped, actually gaining thickness by as much as 2″ in a calculated reprofiling that makes this special P-51 the hottest thing going.
Steven flew the all-white “Voodoo” over a measured course in Idaho last year in a sanctioned speed record effort. The Mustang proclaims the results on its fuselage in signage: “World’s Fastest Piston Powered Aircraft — 531.64 mph C-1e.”
C-1e is the category in which the record was set over Idaho. That was based on averaging multiple passes in opposite directions over the speed course.
“We think it will go 540,” Steven told the crowd.
He said the precision required to deliver the highest possible speeds for the record attempt makes this more difficult than racing at Reno. Any deviation in course, altitude, and turning radius at the end of a pass can chip away at the overall speed available over the course. Last year’s wildfires hung a pall of smoky air over much of Idaho, so the speed team set out a trail of spotlights to help Steven keep on the most efficient course in the rural countryside.
Throughout the two days of Warbird Roundup, the crowd of several thousand could watch warbirds start up just beyond a barrier rope. The characteristic initial cloud of swirling smoke followed by the signature roar of each type of engine was what the fans wanted to see and hear, and they were not disappointed.
John and Sue Paul, founders of the Warhawk Air Museum, are long-time enthusiasts and experts on the World War II Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter. They have two of them in their museum collection. It was natural for other P-40 pilots and owners to congregate at Warbird Roundup, and that made it possible to launch five-ship flights of P-40s each day of Warbird Roundup 2018.
In addition to Warhawk Air Museum’s P-40N called “Parrot Head” for its large nose adornment and the museum’s P-40E “Sneak Attack” in RAF markings, the mass Warhawk flights included a P-40N from the Planes of Fame Museum, a rare P-40M called “Lulu Belle” owned by Diane Maier, and the P-40N “Suzy” owned by Gary Peters.
If the aircraft provided the visceral sight and sound that drew some attendees to Warbird Roundup, it was the presence of World War II Mustang ace Col. C.E. “Bud” Anderson that held the attention of an overflow standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 each day as Anderson talked about flying fighters in World War II.
Those who know Bud Anderson have described him as a mild-mannered and gracious gentleman who transformed into a fearsomely aggressive and astute fighter pilot each time he encountered a German adversary over Europe.
That was evident as Anderson chatted with the crowd in Idaho. German fighter pilots had earned a reputation as skillful warriors, and Anderson went into each encounter with that in mind.
“You treated him like the Red Baron,” he said.
So while not underestimating his foe, Anderson would use every trick he knew to leverage the Mustang’s exceptional performance to ensure his survival. He ended the war a triple ace, with 16-1/4 credited aerial victories.
Anderson augmented his stories with video presentations about his combats. He famously battled one opponent in a diving and climbing dogfight that saw the two fighter pilots struggle to maintain control, waiting for the first aircraft to stall and fall earthward. That would give the other fighter pilot a crucial opportunity to get on the tail of the enemy. Anderson in his P-51, won that contest. After firing at the plummeting German plane, Anderson watched as “he and his shadow met” when the enemy fighter hit the ground.
If it was Anderson’s job to be a skillful and assertive warrior, he was happy when that obligation was discharged. He showed a photo of a young Bud Anderson grinning from ear to ear with his Mustang in England.
“That smile was because I had just finished my second tour of combat in Europe and I knew I wasn’t going to have to fly combat anymore,” he told the crowd.
A glimmer of the calculating fighter ace came to light when an audience member asked Anderson if it had mattered to him whether he faced a Focke Wulf Fw 190 or a Messerschmitt 109 in combat. “I didn’t really care,” Anderson replied.
His audience cherished the opportunity to be in the presence of an American hero this weekend, and Bud Anderson is all that and more.
A poignant visit to Warbird Roundup 2018 was made by Idaho World War II B-25 aircrew member Bill Gornik. As described by Sue Paul of the museum, Gornik, a long-time Warhawk Air Museum volunteer, was in hospice care when he asked to attend Saturday’s show. With family, Gornik watched the flying activities and requested help to stand during the National Anthem and missing man formation. The veteran who deserved to be honored was making the effort to honor others.
This turned out to be Bill Gornik’s final event. He died in his sleep a day later at age 95. Gornik is one of the many veterans Sue Paul and others at the museum have welcomed for decades, telling his story along with others in displays and photos.
Warbird Roundup 2018 set records for the number of aircraft. And attendance was tallied at more than 3,500. Now it remains for the museum staff to outdo this remarkable effort next year.