East meets West - A Pilot's Impression of Two Former Adversaries

    During my time as a pilot at United I flew the Pacific routes. One of my
    favorite layovers was Narita, Japan. I loved to walk from the hotel and
    tour the Osaka Castle and the winding paths through the shrines. I
    always felt there was a huge cultural difference but I was very isolated
    because of language. I even carried a card to show taxi drivers so I
    could get back to my hotel. It was easy to get lost on these walks, as
    even street names were unreadable to me as the characters were just
    pretty but held no meaning.

    Last week in one day I learned more about the Japanese culture than in
    several days wandering the streets of Narita. I had a rare chance to fly
    two unique aircraft on the same day and the contrasts were remarkable.
    These two aircraft were designed for the same job, at the same time, in
    the same ocean yet they had almost nothing in common. They were the
    Grumman F6F Hellcat and the Mitsubishi Zero.
    Flying the Polikarpov

    What do a rat, a fly, an eagle and a little donkey have in common?
    These were all nicknames for the Russian I-16 fighter. The question that
    kept running through my mind as I prepared to fly the I-16 Polikarpov.
    How could one plane have so many names that seem to have no link?
    The pilot's manual held no clues or insights into the many names for this
    little Russian fighter plane but I would soon find out.

    My adventure began when Bob Reiss decided to augment his role in
    preserving significant military aircraft. Bob had previously donated a
    General Motors FM2 Wildcat to the Confederate Air Force. I became a
    pilot sponsor on the Wildcat and have flown it for several years. Bob
    decided to donate an I-16 to the CAF and asked me to fly it at Air Show
    2001 (the CAF yearly air show) Of course, I agreed. Then I got on the
    computer to try and find out what an I-16 was!
    Be careful what you wish for - it may come true.

    The following article appeared in the Confederate Air Force magazine in
    1995, after Dave flew the Wildcat off the USS Carl Vinson.

    Many years ago when I was sixteen or so, just starting in aviation, I
    remember thinking about what I wanted to be and the things I wanted to
    accomplish. The things that came to mind were fly a Pitts, a Mustang
    and a Lear jet, fly for United air lines, fly off an aircraft carrier and do a
    first flight on a prototype aircraft. Although at the time most of these
    seemed little more than dreams as my vision would prevent me from the
    airlines and Navy , I'd never seen an actual Mustang up close and I'd
    only been allowed to wash a Pitts .
    Fighter Factory

    One of my favorite places in the world to visit is the Fighter Factory in
    Suffolk, Virginia. The Fighter Factory is a private collection of historical
    aircraft and not a museum. I have had the privilege of flying many of the
    magnificent airplanes in this collection including a Spitfire, Corsair, P40,
    Hurricane, Skyraider,  I16 and I153. Our special thanks to Jerry Yagen
    and the talented and hardworking team at Fighter Factory for making
    this possible.

    Click on the airplane to check out a short Spitfire flight with Ray Scott,
    Airshow Coordinator for the Fighter Factory. For more information about
    the collection, visit www.fighterfactory.net
Spitfire video
click on airplane