Butcher Bird Flies Again

An authentic WWII Focke Wulf Fw 190 has flown again--in Arizona and Washington.

A JG54 Fw 190A-5, crashed outside Leningrad in 1943, has been resurrected by billionaire Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection; the frame is original, the engine rebuilt from remaining BMW 801 salvage. Much of the reconstruction was overseen by JME Aviation in the UK before completion at Casa Grande, Arizona, where the Fw 190 was test-flown in December 2010--the first genuine 'Butcher Bird' to get airborne in over half a century.

The Fw 190 will homebase at Everett, Washington, where efforts to reskin it in it's original JG54 paint scheme are underway.

Restored Butcher Bird first flight

Fw 190A-5

Pigs Fly No More

Though it would be difficult to find an aircraft with a past more fraught with political interference, the General Dynamics F-111 overcame all to render decades of service to NATO air forces, from Cold War stand-off strike capability to surgical missions into the modern era of asymmetrical conflict, the F-111's unique combination of near-fighter speed and maneuver capability, bomber payload delivery, and nose-to-the-earth terrain-hugging radar effectiveness providing a mission effectiveness and flexibility that remains difficult to equal.

Some combination of aircraft will have to, however...for with the formal retirement of the Royal Australian Air Force's strike fleet, all F-111s are retired.

Known to it's US crews (fondly) as the Aardvark (reportedly for it's pronounced snout), to the RAAF it was a contraction of aardvark's literal translation, 'earth pig'--simply, the Pig.

An RAAF pilot with the second-most flight hours in type, squadron leader Steve Clarke with some 3400, was a pilot for the Pigs' final sortie. The type leader, Captain Brad Insley (United States Air Force, retired) was present for the final flight and got one last Pig ride, as well: in the cockpit of an F-111 he had flown to Vietnam in 1972, as it was towed to permanent static display.

With it's distinctive cockpit pod and variable-geometry 'swing wings,' the F-11, like the Navy's F-14, was an obvious artifact of it's era...and it may be that era has passed. Not without challenge, however, or trial. All of us still alive and free owe some measure of gratitude for the fact to Pigs that flew--and the men who made that so.