THE OREGON INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW SEPTEMBER 20-22, 2019 McMinnville Municipal Airport

Heritage Flight: USAF F-35A Lightning II and P-51 "Val-Halla"

Heritage Flight: USAF F-35A Lightning II and P-51 Val-Halla

One of the most important balances to be struck during an air show is honoring the past while building excitement for the future. The Heritage Flight is one of the most visceral examples of it being done well.

Heritage Flights began in 1997, and have continued to grow in popularity in the years since. They feature a unique visual representation of the Air Force’s history from the days of the Army Air Corps to the present.

Our Heritage Flight will feature the P-51 Val-Halla and the F-35A Demo, flying side-by-side in the skies above McMinnville Municipal Airport.

The P-51 was the “100 day wonder” of WWII. Originally specified and ordered by Great Britain, and ignored by the US Army Air Corps, the aircraft was designed and built by North American Aviation from the ground up in 100 days. When it’s capabilities were later recognized by the USAAC, it was ordered in vast quantities. The range, speed and high altitude capabilities enabled the Allied forces to escort bombers far deeper into enemy territory than any other fighter aircraft–as exemplified by the 332 Fighter Group (the Tuskegee Airmen in their “Red Tail” Mustangs). This allowed the continuation and fruition of the American Bomber force’s tactic of precision daylight bombing.

Built in 1945, the Valhalla aircraft is believed to have served in the Texas Air Guard and with the Indonesian Air Force. Along with one other, it was returned to the US by Stephen Johnson, sold to the War Eagles Museum where it went through initial restoration. It was further restored by Pena Olivas for Bill in 1995. Donated by Bill to the museum when the museum was started in 1996, “Val-Halla” reflects the the colors of the 57th FIS (Fighter Interceptor Squadron), the Black Knights. This is the squadron Bill flew F-89’s with back in 1958. Bill raced this plane at Reno in 1997, ’98 and ’99 as race #68, commemorating the year Apollo 8 went to the moon. His best showing with this airplane was on a gusty race Sunday in ’97, taking third in the Unlimited Class Silver race.

This airplane is named ‘Val-Halla’ to honor Bill’s wife (and museum secretary) Valerie. The name also reflects the fond memories Bill has for the time he spent in Iceland and the year he spent as Ambassador to Norway. Val-Halla is Viking heaven and Bill’s Air Force call sign was “Viking". It will be flown by Lt Col (USAFR Ret) Greg Anders - one of the elite group of current civilian AFHFF pilots who are ACC approved and qualified

For more information on the F-35A, click here.