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Warbird Alley's Warbird News page

Warbird Alley's
Warbird News

Here's the latest news from the warbird aircraft community.

We update this page regularly. Items are moved to the
News Archive after approximately six months.

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Warbird Digest

November 2020:

  • 8 November: Prominent warbird pilot, restorer and owner of Ezell Aviation Nelson Ezell passed away. In the business since 1986, Nelson and his talented company were responsible for many exemplary aircraft restorations over the years, including Corsairs, Sea Furies, Mustangs, Bearcats, Lightnings, and more. In 2015, he was inducted into the EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was seriously injured in the crash of a Sea Fury.

  • 28 November: A 1936 Ryan PT-20 (ST-A), N14984, suffered a propeller-strike during a landing in Modesto, California, USA. Damage to the aircraft appeared to be minimal.

December 2020:

  • After nearly 40 years of service with the Boeing corporation, the company's two Lockheed T-33 chase planes are being retired. The company announced the 66-year old jets would be replaced with something else due to maintenance supply-chain problems.

February 2021:

  • 2 February: An Aeronca 65-TC Defender, N27336, made a runways excursion after landing in Barstow, Oklahoma, USA. The aircraft was not damaged and the pilot was not injured.

  • 12 February: A Boeing B75 Stearman, N1450HP, suffered an engine failure while performing aerobatics, and the pilot performed an emergency landing in the desert near Gold Canyon, Arizona, USA. The pilot was not injured, and the aircraft was not damaged.

  • 15 February: A North American SNJ-6 Texan, N452WQ, experienced a ground loop and runway excursion after landing in Kissimmee, Florida, USA. The aircraft suffered minor damage, but neither of the pilots was injured.

  • 22 February: A 1942 North American AT-6C Texan, N42GK, suffered the collapse of its landing gear while taxiing at Pompano Beach, Florida, USA. Neither the pilot nor the passenger were injured. [Local news link, with several errors>>]

  • 23 February: The Flying Leatherneck Museum, a collection of military aircraft located at MCAS Miramar in California, has announced that it is closing soon. The museum director gave "finances" as the reason for the closure. It is not known what will happen to the collection. [News link >>]

  • 25 February: A Dassault Mirage F1B, N601AX, operated by defense contractor Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), was reported to have had a landing gear issue that resulted in a belly landing at Tyndall AFB, Florida, USA. During the incident, one pilot ejected and the other remained with the airplane -- both survived, but are reported to have been injured. The aircraft was seen on a tracking website to have taken off, then spent some time circling over the Gulf of Mexico before returning to base, implying a possible landing gear anomaly. [Article at "The Drive" site >>]

  • 28 February: An Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros, N43722, made a gear-up landing at St. Petersburg, Florida, USA. Neither occupant of the airplane were injured. The aircraft sustained moderate damage.

March 2021:

  • 5 March: An Aermacchi MB-326M (Atlas Impala Mk II), N155TP, operated by the National Test Pilot School, crashed into open desert near Edwards AFB, California. The two pilots successfully ejected.

  • 17 March: General Des Barker, a test pilot, prolific safety advisor, and author of two influential books about airshow/display flying safety, died along with another pilot in the crash of a rare Patchen Explorer near Swartkop Air Force Base, South Africa. The aircraft was operated by the South African Air Force Museum. Both pilots were highly experienced. Among other works, Barker wrote "Zero Error Margin" in 2003, by far the most comprehensive written examination of high-performance display flying in existence. His newest book was "Anatomy of Airshow Accidents."  [News link>>]  [Ed. Note: General Barker's influence in the airshow community was huge, and he will be missed. Our condolences to his family, friends and associates.] 

April 2021:

  • 14 April: A 1959 Hawker Hunter Mk.58, N331AX, operated by a defense contractor, departed the runway after landing at Yuma MCAS, Yuma, Arizona, USA. The pilot was not injured, and it is unknown if the aircraft sustained damage.

  • 17 April: The pilot of a a 1945 Grumman TBM-3 Avenger, N108Q (c/n 4093), was forced to ditch the aircraft in the Atlantic Ocean, just offshore from Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA, after an apparent loss of engine power. The aircraft, operated by the Valliant Air Command, was flying in the Cocoa Beach Airshow. The ditching, although perilously close to some swimmers, appeared to be performed perfectly, and the pilot was unhurt.  [Video of the incident>>]

  • 21 April: A 1941 Vultee BT-13A Valiant, N53331 (s/n 41-1381), crashed into an airport hangar during a touch-and-go in Camas, Washington, USA. The instructor pilot in the back seat was killed, and the student pilot in the front was injured. The aircraft was substantially damaged. [News Link>>]

  • 23 April: Infamous former air racing personality Bill Whittington, who raced various warbirds at Reno in the 1970s and 1980s, and also owned/operated numerous vintage aircraft, died in the crash of his Swearingen Merlin IIIB in Arizona, USA. He was 71. He and his brother Don were well-known in both auto racing and air racing circles. Both also participated in drug smuggling schemes that landed them in prison in the 1980s and 2000s. Their Griffon-powered P-51 Mustang Precious Metal once achieved a qualifying speed of 453 MPH, the highest recorded qualifying speed at that time. [Autoweek article>>]

  • 26 April: A 1936 Boeing B75N1 Stearman, N56760 (c/n 36-0018), operated by the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, departed the paved runway and ended up inverted during a landing in Denver, Colorado, USA. The pilot was not injured. The aircraft was substantially damaged.

  • 28 April: A Hawker Sea Fury T Mk.20, G-RNHF (VX-281), crashed during an attempted forced landing near RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, UK. The aircraft was destroyed, and both occupants suffered minor injuries. The aircraft was the same Sea Fury that was damaged in a similar incident in 2014 at RNAS Culdrose, and underwent a 3-1/2 year restoration. [News link>>]

May 2021:

  • 4 May: An Aero Vodochody L-29 Delfin, N129MR, made an emergency gear-up landing in Hollister, California, USA, after a landing gear malfunction. The pilot reportedly circled the airport for a while, attempting to lower the gear, before performing a successful belly landing. The plane suffered minor damage, and the pilot was not injured. [News link>>]

  • 25 May: A Dassault Mirage F.1 (registration unknown), operated by a civilian defense contractor, crashed into a residential neighborhood near Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The pilot was killed. [Local news>>]


We sometimes get this question: "Hey! Why don't you update this page immediately when there's warbird news?"

Our answer is that we think news reporting should be as scrupulously accurate
as possible (as opposed to as fast as possible). So we often take
some time to research news items and get the facts
correct. We hope you understand our position.
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