Visiting an F-8

What does the F-8 have to do with “The Propeller under the Bed?” The Navy F-8 was a contemporary of the F-100s that Arnold used to fly, and the two airplanes used the same engine, the Pratt and Whitney J57. The F-8 was quite a bit faster in level flight than the F-100, and the F-8 set several speed records in the 1950s (which the Air Force snatched back as quickly as possible, of course).

The F-8 had an impressive record in Vietnam, racking up 19 MiG air-to-air kills compared to only three F-8 losses.

I’ve been doing some research on the F-8 for another project I’m working on, and I had a chance to see the very first F-8, designated the XF8U-1, which is being restored by Craig Wall for the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The work is being done at the MoF Restoration Center at Paine Field in Everett, so that made it easy to see it. Here’s two pictures of the aircraft, now repainted exactly as it was during its first flight in March 1955:

First prototype F-8, restored to paint scheme used during first flight in March 1955 (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

First prototype F-8, restored to paint scheme used during first flight in March 1955 (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

First prototype F-8, designated the XF8U-1 at the time (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

First prototype F-8, designated the XF8U-1 at the time (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

I think you can agree that Craig is doing an outstanding job. Interestingly, he’s a retired Air Force mechanic who knew nothing about the F-8 before he started working on it. You can see him in the above photo on the left (he and Arnold are behind the wing of another aircraft).

Arnold went along with me, and he just couldn’t resist climbing into the cockpit to check it out:

Arnold in the XF8U-1 cockpit at the Museum of Flight Restoration Center (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Arnold in the XF8U-1 cockpit at the Museum of Flight Restoration Center (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

I’m trying to get another “Amazing Aviation Tale” churned out in the next couple of weeks. Talk to you then!

Local History: Paine Field in Everett

Some of you may remember that Arnold took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, to set his world record. Although he normally flies from Harvey Field in nearby Snohomish, Paine Field offered a longer runway for the fuel-heavy E-1 and a control tower in case there were any problems with the take off.

Paine Field is also home to the plant where Boeing manufactures their wide-body aircraft — 747, 767, 777 and 787 — so I see big airplanes flying around here all the time.

There’s a new book out about the history of Paine Field, and I learned that the airport was originally constructed in the 1930s. It was planned to be a large passenger airport, but during WWII, the Korean War and much of the Cold War, it was mostly a military facility, housing P-51s, F-86s, and F-89s at one time or another. Boeing didn’t move to the airport until the late 1960s.

I also learned that Paine Field is named for Topliff Olin Paine, who was a local airmail pilot. Most airmail pilots who have airports named for them died in plane crashes, but Paine was killed by an accidental gunshot wound in 1922, just a few days after his 29th birthday. He is buried at a cemetery near my house, so I walked there on Saturday with my sister and found his grave. From the marker in the picture below, you can see that he was also in the military during WWI. The larger headstone behind his marker is for his parents.

Paine Grave

Topliff Olin Paine grave marker — Paine Field in Everett is named for him

Up next: Another Amazing Aviation Tale!

E-1 Schedule Update

Arnold got the original engine on the E-1 back together again and, after doing some additional engine runs, he thinks the current engine may be okay after all. But given that we are now into late fall, he has decided to wait until next spring to take the E-1 to the EAA Museum in Oshkosh. The E-1 has no heater, and the weather is also getting a little too iffy to launch on a long cross-country flight that has to be made without flying in the clouds. The delay will also give Arnold a chance to do some more troubleshooting on the engine and perhaps make another attempt at the efficiency record, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, here is a link to a short article I wrote about the control tower at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, which was the departure airport for Arnold’s record-breaking flight in 2010: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140921/NEWS01/140929877.

I haven’t gotten much more done on the RV-8 — I hope my next post will show a little progress!