By Bradley J. Fikes
Sunny Saturday, cloudy Sunday, but warm feelings prevailed on both days of “United We Stood, United We Stand,” the May 18-19 airshow at Chino Airport sponsored by the Air Museum Planes of Fame.
With its theme Anglo-American cooperation during World War II, the air show included flying performances by historic British warbirds such as Spitfires and Hurricanes (the latter the true hero of the Battle of Britain).
Other performing aircraft included a Zlin 50, an F3F biplane and a G-32 biplane.
More modern aircraft included Northrop’s N9M Flying Wing, with its distinctive blue undersurface and yellow top surface, A-10s and an F-18 Super Hornet.
On the ground, the static displays also showed diversity, from the modern and functional to historical aircraft whose appearance alone provokes comment.
Jim Beautel, a former Royal Canadian Navy lieutenant now living in Corona, Calif., owns both varieties in his CJ-6A, originally used for training in mainland China. The model was designed in 1959 as a variation of the Russian Yak 18A, and is still being used today for basic aviation training in the People’s Republic of China.
Beutel acquired the aircraft in 1998 from a Canadian exporter (for about $60,000), who had acquired the surplus plane from the Chinese government. After extensive interior renovations that replaced the Chinese instruments with American ones, Beautel enjoys the craft both on the ground and in the air.
“It does everything,” he said. “It’s fun to fly; it’s great for airshows because it’s unusual. I do about 20 shows a year. It’s very reliable—minimal maintenance. Parts are available from the same people that export them. I get parts faster for this than I could for my American plane that I had before.”
Saturday’s good weather ensured a large turnout and brisk buying of memorabilia, said vendor Jim Sophos, owner of Sophos Silk Screening, whose table displayed many designs of T-shirts and caps.
“We’ve got about 100 different warbird designs, and we have some modern stuff. We have some embroidered hats that are selling real well,” Sophos said.
Also at the show were constant living reminders of the show’s theme—American and British veterans of War II. One was Gene Fetrow, an American who served as pilot officer with the Royal Air Force in 1941.
“I started flying when I was 13 years old,” recalled Fetrow, 83, an Upland resident.
While working at Douglas Aircraft, Fetrow said he heard of a colleague who had joined the Royal Air Force, and followed suit.
“The first thing they asked me was, ‘Are you a pilot?'” Fetrow said, chuckling at the memory that he had already been flying for nearly a decade. However, Fetrow didn’t have enough time in the air, so he trained at Glendale and then was accepted.
“They gave me a ticket to go to Canada, and from Canada I went to England and then went into an operational training unit for about 50-75 hours; then I went to the squadron. I did 122 missions all told, and I got shot down on my 58th mission, in the Dieppe raid,” Fetrow said.
That raid by a Canadian/British force into German-occupied France, on August 19, 1942, was a minor disaster for the Allies, with about 4,000 of the 6,000 troops captured or killed.
“They claimed it was a good show, but it was a murder,” Fetrow said. “About 100 of us guys got shot down. We shot down about 75 to 100 of them.”