The Hawthorne Air Faire
August 23 - 24, 1997
by Norm Vargas

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Hawthorne Municipal Airport held its 14th annual Hawthorne Air Faire August 23-24, 1997. This year's Air Faire celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the United States Air Force. An estimated 30,000 spectators were treated to a wide variety of static displays, flying war planes, and exhibits over the 2 day event.

Northrop-Grumman rolled out some of their modern hardware, including the F-5 Tiger II, the F-14 Tomcat, and the prototype YF-23. Many vintage Army Aircorps and Air Force Warbirds were present and flying, including the B-25J Mitchell, L-19 Bird Dog, P-40N Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, and several P-51 Mustangs, T-6 Texans, and Stearman PT-17's.

Navy and Marine Corps planes included the F-4U Corsair, SNJ, TBM Avenger, and AD-4N Skyraider. Among the rarest and most unusual planes to grace the skies at an airshow were the P-38J Lightning, the C-121C Super Constellation, and the N9M-B Flying Wing - one of three flying wings remaining, and the only one to still fly.

The Hawthorne Air Faire was also proud to present the United States Air Force STARS parachute demonstration team. The team was formed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Air Force. Hawthorne hosted one of the team's first demonstrations last year, and now they wrapped up their tour at this year's Air Faire.

All in all, Air Faire enthusiasts had their choice of over 80 vendors and exhibitors, 58 flying aircraft and static displays to entertain them. With so much to see and do, the Hawthorne Air Faire was fun for the whole family.

Lockheed C-121C
"Super Constellation"
The Constellation Historical Society of Camarillo, CA brings us this beautiful Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation. Named "Camarillo Connie, Queen of the Skies", she saw use as a military cargo transport, passenger transport, and medical evacuation aircraft. She has been lovingly restored and is now maintained by the Constellation Historical Society for the enjoyment of thousands of air show enthusiasts to come.

Here is a line up showing some of the warbirds present at this year's air faire. The North American P-51A Mustang is an early Allison powered model. It flew in Alaska and hence the name "Polar Bear". Jerry Gabe is the owner and pilot.

Also present are Ross Grady's "What's Up Doc", a P-51; a P-47 Thunderbolt brought to us by Chino Planes of Fame, a P-40 Warhawk also from Chino Planes of Fame, and several T-6 Texans.

Flight Line

Mitchel B-25J
The beautiful B-25J Mitchell at this year's air faire is "Executive Sweet" out of Camarillo, CA. The twin-engine medium range bomber saw a lot of action in WWII. Perhaps its greatest claim to fame is Doolittle's "Tokyo Raid" in which specially modified B-25's were launched from a carrier to attack the Japanese homeland. The American Aeronautical Foundation keeps this warbird flying.

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk
The Curtiss P-40N Warhawk is brought to us by the Chino Planes of Fame Museum of Chino, California. The P-40's are perhaps most easily recognized by the snarling teeth design on the nose. The Flying Tigers were the group to fly the P-40's to the greatest fame in the skies of China early in World War II.

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk
Here is a beautiful Chance-Vought F4U Corsair, one of the finest fighters in WWII. It saw action in the Pacific and the US Navy and Marine Corps pilots who flew it had great success against the Japanese. This one is based in Chino and flown by Dick Bertea.

Chance-Vought F4U Corsair

The "Flying Wing"
The N9M-B Flying Wing is always a crowd favorite. It was originally built by Lockheed in 1943 as a 1/3 scale prototype for the upcoming XB-35 full-scale bomber. It has been restored to its former glory by Chino Planes of Fame Museum and is piloted by Ron Hackworth.

The Grumman TBM Avenger was a 3-seat torpedo bomber in WWII. This is the same type of plane that was flown by George Bush when he was shot down over the Pacific. Chuck Wentworth flies this fine example.

Grumman TBM Avenger

Stearman PT-17
The Stearman PT-17 was a trainer used by the Army and Navy through WWII. This beautiful two-seater is flown by Mac McCauley out of Chino, CA.

The United States Marine Corps provided a thunderous end to the show with the take-off and touch-and-go landings of VMFA 134's F/A-18 Hornet. Piloted by Marine reserve pilot Major Rich "Taco" Bell, the Hornet was by far the loudest plane at Hawthorne's Air Faire and well worth the wait for those who stuck around Sunday afternoon for the closing of the show.


Thank you very much to the crews of the "Camarillo Connie", the "Executive Sweet", and to Frank Vranicar for their hospitality at Miramar and at the Hawthorne Air Faire. Your friendliness and willingness to share your knowledge and experiences make these air shows a much more personal and rewarding experience.

Any comments or suggestions can be sent to Let Norm or Max know if you would like to see more of these classic War Birds of SoCal in future issues of PilotAge.

Editor's Note - While we were at the Harwthorne Air Faire, a beamish young fellow came up to us with a couple of cameras hung around his neck. His love of aviation became clear as he held forth on the history of the classic aircraft about us.

He volunteered to share his photos with us. Furthermore, he agreed to provide aerial photography of some more SoCal airports. Watch for Hawthorne, LAX, Santa Monica, Van Nuys, Whiteman and Burbank courtesy of Norm Vargas, in the next issue of PilotAge.

We look forward to sharing with you more of Norm's photos and descriptions of the aviators and aircraft of Southern California.

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