B-24 Diamond Lil

While visiting an airshow recently, I had the pleasure of checking out a flying B-24 Liberator, one of the heavy bombers of the Second World War. It was a well-restored and maintained aircraft.

Nose of B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil.

Nose of B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil.

It’s incredible to imagine squadrons of these bombers overhead, as well as all the aircrews that flew them. Here’s a look at the tail gunner’s station:

Tail gunner's station in B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil.

Tail gunner’s station in B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil.

And here’s a look at the instrument panel in the cockpit, which does include some modern instruments:

Instrument panel in the cockpit of B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil.

Instrument panel in the cockpit of B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil.

Powering this airplane are three massive radial engines, which are impressive in their own right.

Radial engine and propeller on B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil.

Radial engine and propeller on B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil.

For a generous fee, you can take a ride in this plane, which would have been an amazing experience. Sadly, I didn’t have the time. Nonetheless, it was interesting to check out a piece of living history.

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British Airways 2708 (Gatwick to Barcelona)

Departing England and traveling to Spain, I took British Airways flight 2708. This was done aboard an Airbus 319.

British Airways Airbus 319 at Gatwick Gate 101.

British Airways Airbus 319 at Gatwick Gate 101.

Seating is cramped to say the least. Although designated “business class” the seats are actually coach seats with the center seat not sold and armrests that move a few inches to the side. In terms of leg room, well, look at the photo:

Cramped seating in "business class" aboard British Airways 2708, Airbus 319.

Cramped seating in “business class” aboard British Airways 2708, Airbus 319.

Here’s a profile look at the seating arrangement:

Business class seat spacing aboard British Airways Flight 2708.

Business class seat spacing aboard British Airways Flight 2708.

The flight proceeded quite smoothly, with this meal served:

Meal served in "business class" aboard British Airways Flight 2708.

Meal served in “business class” aboard British Airways Flight 2708.

Cabin staff was generally friendly and helpful, but it is a difficult situation considering the cramped nature of the seating, spartan meal, and parade from coach to the lavatory. And here’s the view on approach to Barcelona, Spain.

View of Spanish coast on approach to Barcelona Airport from British Airways Flight 2708.

View of Spanish coast on approach to Barcelona Airport from British Airways Flight 2708.

Thankfully, this was a relatively short flight, and Spain is a wonderful country to visit.

Lil’ Buster

Lil’ Buster showed up at my home airport yesterday. Quite a nice example of a classic aircraft, in this case a Luscombe. Take a look.

Lil’ Buster, Luscombe Aircraft

It featured that fancy paint job, complete with the name.

Cowling of the Luscombe, Lil’ Buster.

The instrument panel contains only the necessities, those instruments required by law, for safe operation.

Luscombe instrument panel.

A plane like this requires real stick and rudder skills. It’s all you, all the time, and I would venture to say, that’s what makes it fun and interesting. You’re flying under visual flight rules, using a chart and dead reckoning, and what you can see below to find your way. This is my kind of flying.

Civil Air Patrol

While at my local small airport doing some writing, I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of pilots who work with the Civil Air Patrol. Here in the United States, the Civil Air Patrol is given the task of inland search and rescue. If a small plane goes down these volunteers head out to find it. They also patrol for other purposes such as firewatches and the like. Here’s a look at one of their planes, a Cessna 182.

Many of these volunteers are former military and commercial pilots, that is people with many years of experience and plenty of training. The guys that I met were among the most competent pilots I had the pleasure of speaking with in recent months. They were also friendly and willing to explain the details of their tasks, equipment, and approach to both. I learned a few good tips this day, all for the price of a handshake. A great deal if ever there was one.