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Warbird U – 2015

Sign up today for the 2-day Battle of Britain Warbird U Technical Ground School—28–29 March—seats are limited!

Seventy-five years ago this year, one of the most storied and talked about battles in military history took place in the skies of England. It was a battle that raged for three and a half bitter months, yet involved less than 3,000 Allied combatants—all pilots with the Royal Air Force, mostly British, but also Canadians, Polish, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, and Americans. Of these pilots, known today as The Few, the vast majority flew one of only two types of aircraft—the Hawker Hurricane or the Supermarine Spitfire air defence fighters. Both aircraft have become legendary—icons of salvation for a country well and truly on the ropes. If they had not succeeded in this battle, the planned Nazi invasion known as Operation SEALION would have surely meant long-term subjugation of the British people and the loss of the only country capable of staging the eventual counterattack that would defeat the Germans. The situation was dire indeed. The outcome of this greatest of all aerial battles depended on two machines—the “Hurri” and the “Spit”.

With its beautiful lines and excellent performance, the Spitfire became the symbol of the Battle of Britain, the attractive poster girl for a last ditch effort to ward off invasion. As such, the Spitfire’s place in British history is unrivaled. Photo: Imperial War Museum

The Hurricane was the true workhorse of the Battle of Britain. Warbird U students will get up close and personal with a cockpit seat check in the Mk IV and a technical introduction to the Mk XII. Here, a group of Canadian pilots of No. 1 Squadron RCAF gather round one of their Hawker Hurricane Mark Is at Prestwick, Scotland. Photo: Imperial War Museum

A legendary Battle of Britain dog fighter, the Hurricane was also a stable ground attack and bombing platform. Photo: Imperial War Museum

As the war progressed and was eventually won, some 20,000 Spitfires and 14,500 Hurricanes would be constructed—huge numbers that boggle the imagination. Parked nose to tail, this prodigious output would stretch for some 180 miles. Of these thousands of fighters, little more than 50 Spitfires and a dozen Hurricanes are still able to take to the skies worldwide. In Canada, only one of each is still flying—both at Vintage Wings of Canada!

On 28–29 March 2015, in the 75th anniversary year of this historic battle, Vintage Wings is offering a new Warbird U Technical Ground School dedicated to the two classic British fighters—comparing, contrasting and exposing procedures and handling characteristics. The Battle of Britain instructors include Rob Erdos, Joe Cosmano and Mike Potter—three of the most experienced warbird fighter pilots in Canada.


Course Outline

SATURDAY, 28 March 2015
Welcome to Vintage Wings. Group Introductions
Hurricane and Spitfire Historical Background
Warbird Transition Training, Then and Now
Spitfire Systems, Handling, and Procedures
Hurricane Systems, Handling and Procedures

SUNDAY, 29 March 2015
How to Compare Fighters—a Test Pilot’s perspective
Comparison of the Battle of Britain Combatants
Cockpit Familiarization and Student “Hero” Pictures:  Spitfire and Hurricane
Pre-flight Inspections: Spitfire and Hurricane
Merlin Engine Demonstration and History
Engine Start—Weather permitting

To register for this course, click here


Mike Potter, founder of Vintage Wings of Canada, is the highest-time current Spitfire pilot in Canada, if not North America. With over 10 years experience flying the Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI and other classic fighters like the Corsair and the Mustang, Mike has many valuable insights to share. Mike has flown both the Spitfire and the Hurricane. Photo: Peter Handley

Rob Erdos, the “Dean” of Warbird U and a graduate of the Empire Test Pilot School at RAF Boscombe Down, is one of the most experienced aviators in the country—flying, testing and demonstrating everything from his own homebuilt to helicopters to fixed wing fighters of the Second World War. He is presently engaged in the flight test program for the Bombardier CS300 mid-sized airliner. Rob has flown both the Spitfire and the Hurricane, but brings to the course something very rare and very special—he has also flown the Messerschmitt Bf-109. Photo: Peter Handley

Rob “Spock” Erdos is one of the very few pilots in the world to have flown and evaluated all three of the major fighter aircraft of the Battle of Britain, including the legendary Messerschmitt Bf-109. During the Battle of Britain Ground School, Rob will share with students his intimate knowledge of the unique air and ground handling characteristics of this most important of Luftwaffe front line fighters. Photo via Rob Erdos

During the Battle of Britain, RAF fighter pilots did not have first-hand knowledge of the enemy aircraft they were up against. Later in the war however, captured fighters including the Messerschmitt Bf-109 were painted in RAF markings and toured around RAF fighter and bomber bases. With Rob Erdos’ experiences flying the 109, time will be devoted on the second day to sharing his knowledge—something The Few were not able to take advantage of. Photo via usaircraft.proboards.com

Your Hawker Hurricane instructor is Joe “Salty Dawg” Cosmano. Like his fellow Americans who joined the RAF Eagle Squadrons during the Battle of Britain, Joe joins us from across the border. A native of Buffalo, New York, Joe is an airline captain and warbird pilot. He owns a Boeing Stearman and a Christian Eagle, both of which he flies for the pure joy of flight. Cosmano is the ultimate entertainer, communicator and consummate professional warbird pilot. His knowledge, great communication skills and sense of humour make him one of the finest instructors anywhere. Photo: Jonathan Edwards

Joe Cosmano touches down on grass in the Vintage Wings of Canada Hawker Hurricane IV, the only flying example in the world today. As part of the Battle of Britain Fighters Ground School, Cosmano will take you through a cockpit checkout and share with you his experiences flying this historic warhorse. At the end of the course and weather permitting, there will be an engine start of either the Hurricane’s or Spitfire’s Merlin engine. Photo: Jonathan Edwards

The Hawker Hurricane shouldered 75% of the work during the Battle of Britain. More utilitarian, less pretty than her sister the Spitfire, the Hurry was a very capable and formidable flying and fighting machine. From her cramped, hot and claustrophobic cockpit, Canadians flew in the Home Defense Squadrons on both coasts of Canada as well as with Royal Air Force squadrons in the Battle of Britain, North Africa, Malta and the Far East. Tough, ubiquitous and a legend, the Hawker Hurricane has earned its place in RAF history. Photo: Gus Corujo

Rob Erdos taxies the Spitfire Mk XVI at Geneseo. Photo: Jonathan Edwards

The complete Warbird U Calendar for 2012
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