Warning: airplane geekiness ahead. If airplanes hold no interest for you, you might just want to skip this post.
Two years ago I went to the Paris Air Show – the biggest in the world. This year, Hervé Rufin invited me to a smaller airshow at the grass strip in the town of La Ferté Alais. Yesterday we – Hervé, his daughter Sophia and me – went, and had a ball. But then, we’re airplane geeks, so you know we’re going to have a good time.
This is an amazing airshow in a way completely different from the Paris Air Show. That one is industry-oriented, with thousands of exhibitors and mostly modern airplanes. (For more, look at this blog entry: Paris Air Show, 2013)
The La Ferté Alais airshow has mostly historic airplanes, all of which are living, breathing, flying airplanes. There were planes from the 1910s and 1920s; when I saw them I thought they were static displays, that is, non-flying replicas. Nope, they were the real thing: every one of these planes flew during the show.
In the US of A we forget that after Wilbur and Orville Wright first flew a heavier-than-air machine in 1903, they had little success getting anyone in the United States interested in the potential of airplanes. In 1908 they came to France with their latest airplane and spent almost a year working with French people who did understand the value and future of airplanes. When the Wright Brothers returned to the States in 1909, the French aviation industry thrived and for quite a few years, creating the most advance airplanes in the world. Many of those pioneering airplanes were at La Ferté Alais airshow, and showed their stuff by flying.
An Old Friend: The North American T28.
Long ago I went through Navy flight training at Pensacola Florida and there flew the T28, built by North American Aviation, in Primary Flight Training. So it was with pleasure that I saw the French version of that plane at La Ferté Alais. Even better that Hervé knew a person who happened to be at the T28 display, told him that I’d flown this type and that fellow introduced me to the owner. After swapping a story or two, he asked if I’d like to climb up and look inside. Yes, indeed, I did.
That’s the first time I’ve looked into the cockpit of a T28 in 45 years, but I recognized everything in it. Definitely a blast from the past.
Hervé, Sophia and had a great time, and I am grateful to Hervé for the invitation and the fun we had.