Retired Warbirds take to the skies again

A group of aviators are taking retired warbirds back into the air once again at Mesa's Falcon Field Airport.
-
Decades ago they flew during wartime. They were aerial combat machines. Today they are considered vintage aircraft.
 
A collection of about a dozen Warbirds sits inside a hangar at Mesa's Falcon Field and each plane still flies.
 
FOX 10's Nicole Garcia took to the skies with the flying formation group, the Falcon Warbirds.
 
"I got 29 years of flying flying fighters."
 
"This airplane was the first airplane I ever flew because this is an Air Force trainer."
 
Dick Stich is a retired Air Force pilot. His bird is one of about a dozen housed in a hangar in Mesa's Falcon Field Airport.
 
"And we have 10 airplanes in there were not a museum they all fly," said Stich.
 
 
The Falcon Warbirds is a group of vintage aircraft pilots. Each pilot has their own fully restored, ex-military plane. They are in a league of their own.
 
We thought originally it would really be cool if we could all be in one hangar and it is, but what we've turned into shortly after we got this big hangar was doing everything for veterans."
 
The flying formation group takes to the skies for airshows, public events, missing man memorials and funerals. 
 
"We do a lot of events throughout the course of the year we did 32 events last year," said Stich.
 
They do this on their own time with their own money because this is their passion.
 
"I grew up in an aviation family. I soloed an airplane at the age of 16 before I got a drivers license
 
Scott Andrews is a commercial airline pilot. His former Chinese military fighter trainer, when he bought it, it came in pieces and he assembled the plane on his own.
 
"It takes a lot of work to do it because you can't take it to a shop, so we have to do all our own work on it," said Scott.
 
It takes a certain set of skills and a certain breadth of experience to keep these vintage birds up in the air because they do not make fighter jets like these anymore.
 
"Parts you know you have to get the original parts and you have to go to the military entity that operated the equipment and sometimes the aircraft has been out of production long enough parts become a scarcity."
 
And it's not just the birds that are historical; so it the hangar.
 
"You know the story on the hangar it was built in '41 for the British and they trained all their pilots over here because of the weather."
 
More than just aviation enthusiasts, more than just an exciting hobby; these pilots have turned their passion into a service in which they show off their skills to honor those who have served and continue to serve our country.
 
"I'm lucky and fortunate enough to do this it's a lot of fun and we pay a lot of respect especially to our veteran groups."
 
"Anything veterans want us to do were involved with that and that's my big thing having this hangar and the Warbirds. We're doing all this for veterans."

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In – includes Advertiser Stories