My 2018 season


Staff member
Mar 27, 2018
New Jersey, USA
Good question. Back when my uncle flew Warbirds it was expected that air shows would "comp" fuel, a car, food and possibly a room. That dried up decades ago unless you were a big name act.
Once I got used to flying the BT-13 I made it to a couple of fly ins and the plane was a big hit. I spent three years bringing the plane to various events and putting it on static display, all at my own expense. I thought that is just how it was.

Then I started getting invited back to some of the places I've been, a few of which are a couple of air hours from home. At one point I promoted going to an event to a local Warbird group and the first thing they asked was "what are the comps?"
When I asked the group promoter he told me that the event was small and that they hoped to be able to provide something, but not this year.

Then as the event approached he contacted me and said they would buy my gas and two nights in an air BnB.

One day I was on my way to a fly-in but heard of a community Aviation Day that was along my route. I landed and parked next to an A-1 Skyraider and P-51. I never left. I was welcomed warmly by event staff and asked if I would consider flying in the show. What's the right answer for that?

A BT-13 is extremely rare compared to a T-6, with 20-50 left world wide and under 30 flying. They were showcasing Cornelia Fort, the first American pilot shot at on December 7, 1941 while she instructed in an Interstate Cadet. (The movie Pearl Harbor showed it as a dude in a Stearman).

They have the plane she was flying, fresh out of restoration. I didn't know the story, nor did I know that Cornelia snuck back into the history books in 1942 by being the first woman to die in service of her country in the war. She had been delivering at BT-13 to Texas and crashed during formation work.
The act involved Cadet taking off and getting attacked by a "Zero" (modified T-6). After the Cadet landed I buzzed through in the BT. Simple, and a lot of fun.
I make it to as many of their (Heritage Flight Museum) events as possible. I have been asked to fly and on one occasion I flew a couple of hot passes in the BT while Greg Anders flew a T-6 on my wing. I don't know that I have ever had more fun doing anything involving clothes.

Well we sold the BT to a nice guy in Texas and I flew down there with him (14 hours). No sooner had we acquired the T-6 when I got invitations to bring it to events.
The event promoter for the Lewiston, ID show didn't even blink when I asked about gas money and he came through with it. I probably only had two hours in it when I landed so I was only interested in static display. I still put down a 200 mph pass when I left.
Sadly a bad radio, along with a guy who was supposed to buy the plane (but didn't), kept me from flying it much this year. I made it to two events after Lewiston. I flew a veteran at one of them.
Flown sparingly, I could operate it without too bad of a wallet fire. Oil is in gallons and the fuel lines are like garden hoses.
The Citabria is dirt cheap to operate by comparison and I can get it in/out of the hangar by myself with a simple Cessna style towbar. The big tail draggers are 3000lbs and you need a tug and a P-51 style tow bar.

Next spring the T-6 will go back on the block and if/when sold will be replaced with a T-28. For that I need what amounts to a type rating. Fuel burn will be closer to 50gph but thankfully with a 220 knot cruise. Beating up the pattern will be heinously expensive and pulling it off may spell the end of owning the Citabria without a partner or two.

Nice bit of information there. Thanks for the explanation.

The shop by my house is something of a regular stop for T-28 owners. The owner of the shop has one and his buddies bring theirs there also so it isn't unusual for there to be a T-28 there on any given day. One of the mechanics owns multiple T-34's. Funny how certain spots develop an expertise on particular designs.

I make a good passenger in "airshow" type planes......just sayin'. :)