Borate plane #2
April 6, 2013
Borate fire fighting plane #3
photo by Kenn Knackstedt
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This picture of Dennis Connor’s impromptu airshow also reminds me of the day I was watching some water drop tests when I was working as an instructor at Logan and Reavis in the late 60’s. One of the tanker pilots (I think) had a vw bug he drove. He said “I bet you can’t hit my car with a water drop ” to either Dennis or Bill Rosenbaum. That was the wrong thing to say, because they made the drop and when the water hit the vw, it literally picked it up and rolled it a couple times before it stopped. Of course, the vw was destroyed. We all just laughed!! Those were the days.
Those really WERE the days, Fred! It was so much fun then — ESPECIALLY when George was in the tower, ’cause he was one of “us” fellow-funlovers! I, too, remember the destroyed VW.
I remember one late afternoon/early evening at MFR in the late summer of 1968 when I was a gas boy/ramp rat working for Rogue, and Denny Conners had been testing the borate configuration on #3, shown, and must’ve gotten bored and decided to put on an impromptu solo airshow with the B-17.
It’s fuel tanks must’ve been nearly EMPTY when he took off, because, that big ol’ Flying Fortress LEAPT off Runway 32 just like a turbocharged Super Cub in an Alaskan STOL contest, with its nose pointed at the sky in an insanely steep climb! Denny, of course, practically “wore” any airplane he flew, and that day he did some AMAZING maneuvers, with that B-17, it being just an extension of his arms and legs: awesomely-TIGHT turns occurring all within the confines of the field boundaries and impossible-looking chandelles, all of which would’ve put the average T-Craft or Cub carrying only 2 gallons of gas to shame!
George Milligan must’ve been in the tower than day, as he almost always went along with FUN-loving happenings on the field like this. The show didn’t last long (evidence that there WASN’T much gas in the tanks!), but it was an eye-opening demonstration of the sheer excess power designed into a B-17, and how it could make USE of that raw power, when it was NOT weighted down with a burdensome bomb load (or borate load, for that matter). It’s too bad there wasn’t a crowd to witness Denny’s amazing show — it was pretty much just me and a few other guys there at MFR, getting ready to close up shop and go home . . . and then, we DID . . .
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