Cactus Fly-In 2012

By: Category: AirshowsCasa GrandeEventsFly-inWarbird

Last Friday and Saturday the Cactus Fly-In was held in Casa Grande (CGZ). One of two fly-ins in the area that that, the other being the monthlt Coolidge Fly-In, it was packed with fun and lots of airplanes. I was able to squeeze those two events and a visit to Sky Harbor all the same day (as well as the drive to and from Prescott), mainly to see how much I could handle and also for the variety.

Now, those that know me well probably have heard that I have been chasing a particular plane for almost a year now, and that was the main reason I HAD to drive down to the fly in. Even though the ramp at CGZ was full of everything between Zenith homebuilts to small flying boats and a few Twin Beeches, one plane stood much taller than everything else around, and I could see the tail before I could even see the airport fence. This airplane is Tanker 121, N2871G; a WWII Consolidated PB4Y-2/P4Y-2 Privateer. The only airworthy example of the Privateer and one of few survivors; of almost 740 airframes built during WWII, only 6 or so remain in use today.

This particular plane was operated by the Navy, Coast Guard and eventually flew for the now extinct Hawkins &  Powers, flying for years with H&P as a firefighter, it was retired from service in 2002. This plane served alongside other Privateers, including Tanker 123, tragically lost during the Summer of 2002 in Colorado (and immortalized in the song “The Last Flight of 123” by the Black Irish Band). After the demise of H&P and auctioning off of the assets, this plane was bought by a group of individuals. It has appeared at several airshows recently, however, none of the ones I attended to, it was schedule to make one or two appearances at Valle this summer, but the problems with an engine prevented it from flying there. By the way, this particular plane had the original PW R-1830 Twin Wasp engines replaced with Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclones during its firebomber career.

The only bad thing is that it was completely surrounded by smaller planes, making it difficult to get a full shot, but I can’t really complain, after all, I did get a few shots. Oh, and some people asked me if I knew anything about the plane and why it was so big, so I gave them a quick 3 minute summary of the plane’s history.

Another rare duo was present there, the only two airworthy (out of 3 surviving planes) Goodyear F2G Super Corsair. A development of the regular Corsair, the Super Corsairs received an engine upgrade, to a PW R-4360 Wasp Major (and with that engine, a much longer nose). The R-4360 is the same engine that the B-29, C-97 and related developments have, also, the Hughes Spruce Goose has 8 of them. With a power increase from 2000 hp of the F4U to 3000 hp, the 10 planes built were eventually sold as surplus and used as racers. Three examples survive, one at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, and two airworthy planes, F2G-1 N5588N Race 57 and F2G-2 N5577N Race 74, both restored to the colors they had in 1949 when they were used for racing. They were parked together which resulted in some great photos.

N202LD also made an appearance. This is a Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard Mk IV (A Canadian T6) which has been modified to resemble a North American NA-68/P-64. I got a shot of this plane last year but it had people around it. It was quite difficult to get a clear shot too, there was alwyas a large crowd around it.

Lastly, another very rare airplane that was there was the only Wickham B built, N1343, C/N 1. An experimental twin engine homebuilt from 1967 (which I was told was designed and built by a Boeing engineer or former engineer). This plane is based out of Deer Valley, however, it is rarely possible to get photos from the terminal, as it usually uses the north runway.

Of the regular airplanes, there was a large amount of Cessna 180/185 taildraggers, I’m sure I have never seen so many Skywagons in the same place before, aside from that, anything from original Cubs to Carbon Cub LSA’s, a couple of Waco biplanes, several Stearmans, Mustangs, Trojans, Bonanzas, etc. Also, while the event is mostly a warbird/vintage/antique event, some rather new planes showed up, including Prescott-based Guidance Aviation’s Cirrus SR20/22 planes, and some newer Cessnas and homebuilts.

I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I have edited less than 10% of what I took, but I promise I will post more as soon as I edit more (I also have the ones from Coolidge, Sky Harbor, plus El Centro is next weekend), but for now, enjoy.

And for those wondering, there was a 4th R-4360 powered Corsair in existence in recent years, however, that plane was converted from a regular Corsair and it was lost in 1994 during the Phoenix 500 race.


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