Monday, June 11, 2012

BuffaloWingz?

Some may come across this blog, see the title, and say... 'Huh?'

Or, in the parlance of today's technology-driven society... 'lolwut' or maybe, 'wtf'.

Then they might say, 'oh, this guy likes 'Buffalo wings'... with that hot 'Buffalo sauce' on 'em'.

They who are doing the saying would be right... I do loves me some wings. However, if I may digress for a moment, for those of you who are not from the Buffalo, NY area... they're NOT 'Buffalo wings'! And it's not 'Buffalo sauce'... I don't care how many times you've eaten at Buffalo Wild Wings or whatever the hell the name of that place is; they're just 'wings' and it's just 'sauce'. Versteh? Gut...

While the name of this blog is indeed inspired, in part, by this writer's love for Buffalo wi... 'wings', it is mostly inspired by the facts that I am from the Buffalo, NY area and am something of a nut for things with wings. No, not birds... although I do like birds. They taste wonderful, especially those from which we get the aforementioned and oft mis-labeled delicacy. No... it is not the living, breathing, flying, chirping, and newly-washed-car-accosting things with wings of which I am speaking. Rather, it is those man-made things with wings, the man-made birds that we all call, for the lack of a better term... airplanes.

Yeppers... I'm a certifiable wingnut. Some kids grow up with a fascination for fast cars, and I think my Dad probably wanted me to conform to the norm in that respect. He was a motorhead of sorts and had a passion for auto racing. From him I inherited that interest... but not the passion. No... ever since one day way back in July 1982, my passion has been airplanes. It just dawned on me as I write this... 'twas almost 30 years ago... wow, time flies... pun intended...

The place was Niagara Falls... I was nine-and-eight-tenths years old (or thereabouts) when my Dad took me to see my first airshow. There were aircraft of all sorts there that day... warbirds and modern jets... fighters and transports... bombers and trainers. Of course, I didn't know what any of them were back then, but I recall seeing a TBM Avenger, an F4U Corsair, a P-51 Mustang, some AT-6 Texans, a B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-29 Superfortress, and a buncha gray and green airplanes, each with big red meatballs painted on the wings and fuselage. These latter were actually AT-6s and BT-13s which had been modified to look like Japanese aircraft for the film 'Tora! Tora! Tora!', and that is how I think of them today... but back then they were 'Zeroes', 'Vals', and 'Kates' until I was old enough and knowledgeable enough to know any different.




There were also modern aircraft... jets, turboprops, and helicopters. These initially made a lesser impression on me than did the warbirds... although, for a time, I was to take a greater interest in them. I think there was an F-15 Eagle, an F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, and maybe even a NASA F-104 Starfighter. There may have been an F-14 Tomcat, which eventually became and still is my favorite jet aircraft. There may have also been an A-4 Skyhawk, A-6 Intruder, and an A-7 Corsair... these were standard fare at airshows back then, but I do not recall seeing them that day. The trainers, I do remember vaguely... a TA-4 Skyhawk, T-38 Talon, T-37 Tweet, T-28 Trojan, T-34 Mentor... and I know there was a T-33 Shooting Star (yes, you can call a T-33 by that name) from the local ANG outfit, but again... I don't recall seeing it. And there were the transports... the C-130 Hercules, C-141 Starlifter, and a C-5 Galaxy, if I recall.

The two jets I remember most were the F-4 Phantom II and F-101 Voodoo which were, like the T-33, from the local Guard unit. However, I don't think it was these two jets in and of themselves which made such an impression on me... but rather a third aircraft which was parked next to them...

I honestly don't recall too much of how I felt upon seeing this particular aircraft that day. Only its color and the sharkmouth on its nose are burned into my memories. But it must have affected me more than the rest of the birds I saw that day because I do recall hanging around this airplane much longer than any other.

Later on I would learn two facts about this airplane which have influenced my activities as an aviation enthusiast more than anything else... and they are:

1) Every example of this particular type of airplane was built in Buffalo, NY.

2) My Grandfather had helped to build them.

If you haven't already guessed... the airplane with which I was so enamored was a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.

Matter of fact, it was this one, captured by my Dad's lens on that day. Sometime I'll have to get my hands on a film scanner and re-scan these instead of using a flatbed film adapter. Then maybe I'll be able to do them some justice...



Both 'Pink P-40 photos: N.Donacik/BuffaloWingz


Anyhoo, although this encounter with that beautiful bird sowed the seed of what would eventually become an obsession with the P-40, it wasn't until around a year later that that particular deal was clinched. But that's for another bit of rambling. However... on that day in July of 1982 my status as a general wingnut was firmly established and further cemented  by a certain item that my Dad had acquired and brought home...




I spent countless hours paging through this book, usually just gazing at the pictures in wonder... but sometimes I did actually read the articles. Kinda like 'Playboy' for the fledgling warbird enthusiast... thrilling for what it was, but no true substitute for the real thing. However, airshows don't occur every day, so in between them I had to make do with this souvenir and the increasing number of aviation books and rags that my Dad began picking up on a regular basis. Also, we both took up the hobby of model-building; for my Dad it was a return, as he had built models during his childhood and early adulthood, but hadn't built anything in years... for me it was a new pastime, and one I attacked with much gusto, eventually becoming a somewhat hardcore builder. It was just one of a few ways in which I could express my passion and exercise growing artistic inclinations. In the world of serious model building, reference material is an absolute requirement... so that only fueled my appetite for aviation books and rags and the imagery they provided.


In the almost thirty years since that day in July of 1982, thanks largely to my Dad, I've accumulated thousands of books and magazines dealing primarily with military aviation. And then I started collecting photographs... original vintage stuff. But it was not until the advent of truly capable personal computers and the creation of the internet that my quest for military aviation imagery really took off, (yep, pun intended) and I discovered that there are more photographs of airplanes in the world than any one person could possibly find or even fathom. And believe me... I have tried as hard as anyone to find them and to fathom not only the number of photos that I have found, but also the number that I will never find.

And I am still trying to find and to fathom... and that is why I made this blog.

To share what I have found... and maybe to find others who attempt to fathom.


Fade to Black...




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