Monday, October 3, 2016

The Dawn Patrol - report

I went up to Dayton yesterday for the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, and watched a variety of manned replicas of WWI airplanes fly through the skies above the Air Force Museum.  There were also vintage cars, large RC planes flew overhead, WWI re-enactors roaming about and encamped, and numerous vendors of books and memorabilia.

The event wasn't by the main part of the museum, but in a field alongside an abandoned runway to the south of the museum proper.  I caught sight of biplanes flying even before I arrived at the entrance.

Camp library, just inside the entrance.  Books for troops, a hundred years ago.

As soon as I entered, there was a small encampment of soldier re-enactors with tents set up, including a library tent.  The other side lay the runway, separated from the main space by a temporary orange fence.  A number of planes were present in the main space, but others were just on the other side of the fence, so as to be more accessible to the runway.

The first few planes I saw were German, but then I bean to encounter American planes, too.

German Fokker DR1 triplane

American SPAD in markings of 94th Aero Squadron

The planes were really cool on the ground.  It was neat to see them flying by in the air, as well.

First plane in the air that I was actually able to photograph.
Crosswinds interrupted the schedule of events.  Manned flight took a backseat to RC planes for a while, during which time I grabbed lunch, picked up more books than I really should have from the book dealers, and watched a presentation by Graydon Allen Tunstall, author of Blood on the Snow: The Carpathian Winter War of 1915.  The presentation covered the importance of air power, particularly aerial reconnaissance, on the Eastern Front.  His general thesis seems to be that aerial reconnaissance was essential to German victory, and made the Austro-Hungarian defeats less severe than they otherwise would have been - that last is a truly scary thought, given the severity of the losses they suffered with better aerial reconnaissance.

By this time, the crosswinds had died down and manned flights had resumed.

A biplane against a blue sky

Fly away

During the later flybys of the manned planes, a group of soldier re-enactors set up a position and offered anti-aircraft fire by rifle and machine gun.  They were eventually knocked out by an assault on their eastern flank.  Alas, I discovered them late in their performance, as the last doughboy "died", so I only have a couple photos, and none without flight line personnel in bright orange shirts.

Doughboys cut down by Brits?
One interesting aspect of flight operations was caused by the fact that many of the aircraft lacked a wheel at the rear.  Instead, they had some form of wooden skid at the tail, which dragged on the ground.  As a result, takeoffs and landings were conducted from a stretch of grass adjacent to the old runway, rather than on it.

Skid at tail of plane

Colorful German biplane
By the end of the session of manned flights in the mid-afternoon, I'd had enough.  It was a lot of fun, but I was starting to get hungry, and for some reason the food trucks didn't seem appealing that day. So I packed it in and headed back toward my car.  On the way out, I caught a quick photo of an interesting stroller alternative one family was employing.

Themed stroller alternative - fit for a Baron (or Baroness)!

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