2017 Planes of Fame Airshow by John Thow

2017 represented the 60th anniversary of the Planes of Fame Museum and the 25th year that the skies over the Chino Municipal Airport have been filled with an amazing collection of warbirds and aerobatic planes. You would be hard pressed to find a better, more diverse, collection of warbirds at an air show anywhere. After several weeks of uncertainty as to whether or not the 2017 Planes of Fame Air Show would happen at all, due to a dispute with airport neighbors, cooler heads did indeed prevail, at least for the moment, and court proceedings were set aside until after the event. It was great to see so many of you out at the show, showing  your support for this great aviation event, even in the midst of some

P-26 Peashooter lands after show opener  Photo: ©John Thow

difficult weather conditions. We were there for the Saturday show, the forecast was calling for rain all day, but with the exception of some very dark clouds and the occasional bout with a few sprinkles, the rain held off and the show went on. Starting out with the N9M Flying Wing, P-26 Peashooter and Seversky AT-12 Guardsman, things were off to a nice start.

AT-12 Guardsman opens the show  Photo: ©John Thow

Two P-40 Warhawks fly in tight formation  Photo: ©John Thow

P-51D Mustang "Kimberley Kaye" Photo: ©John Thow

One of five F4U Corsairs at the 2017 Planes of Fame Air Show Photo: ©John Thow

This was closely followed by a fly-over of a collection of four World War Two era warbirds during the National Anthem. The formation included a newly restored Japanese A6M Zero, P-51A Mustang, F4U Corsair and a P-38 Lightning (in that order). One thing that stood out to us as a bit strange was that the formation was led by the Zero. I understand it is the most recent of the museum’s restorations and they were probably just anxious to show it off, but it seemed odd to lead the American National Anthem with an aircraft once used by our former enemy… anyway, food for thought, the Zero is beautiful and of course we’re all friends now.

Next up, a great gaggle of warbirds took to the sky, there were Mustangs, three P-40s, a P-38, a Spitfire, two C-47s, a Swiss Pilatus, a P-63 King Cobra and more.

This year’s Air Show Special Feature was the inclusion of five F4U Corsairs. Not since the days of the “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” television show have I personally seen this many Corsairs in the same air space. The show first aired in 1976 and the Corsairs used to be kept lined up on the makeshift airfield at Indian Dunes, (near Six Flags in Valencia, CA) where the show was filmed. The flying scenes were primarily shot over the Channel Islands and as a boy we would often see the formation flying over Ventura County for filming. So seeing these great planes together again was really a special treat.

One of five F4U Corsairs at the 2017 Planes of Fame Air Show Photo: ©John Thow

The sky was dark and my shot's not great, but those are five Corsairs, priceless! Photo: ©J Thow

After the Corsair formation, they split up for individual flybys over the flight line, and were joined in the air by a TBM Avenger, F4F Wildcat, two SBD Dauntless, and two Zeros for a “Pacific Theatre” series of passes. The B-25 Mitchell known as “Photo Fanny” and Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer began their flying just as the sun was peeking through the clouds creating some beautiful lighting conditions for the first time and perhaps the only time of the day. So at least for a moment, the lighting was right for some better pictures.

F7F Tigercat flight demonstration  Photo: ©John Thow

SBD Dauntless  Photo: ©John Thow

PB4Y-2 Praviteer  Photo: ©John Thow

F-35A & P-51Ds  Heritage Flight at Chino 2017   Photo: ©John Thow

The show wrapped up with a pair of P-51D Mustangs in formation with an F-35A Lightning II for the heritage flight, very cool to see the vapor coming of the wings and streaming from the wingtips of the Lightning. So, to conclude, we had a super day at the air show. It was an abbreviated line up, there were fewer aircraft overall and no mass fly-over at the end as we have seen in years past. The show moved along very well, was fun to watch and we had a great time. One of the things I always look for in any air show is the pacing. As you can guess from this site, we attend a lot of air shows and the ones that really stand out are not only the shows with the best aircraft, but the shows that pace their schedule well. Shows with dead spots or long breaks without flying lose the crowds attention, Planes of Fame succeeded this year on both counts, great job – can’t wait for next year!