Oliver 'warbirds' pay respects with Remembrance Day flybys - InfoNews

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Oliver 'warbirds' pay respects with Remembrance Day flybys

Oliver pilot Paul Dumoret with his Chinese built Nanchang CJ6A military trainer.
November 07, 2018 - 8:00 PM

OLIVER - The two Oliver “warbirds” flying in a three-plane formation are a familiar sight and sound in the South Okanagan.

The planes are often seen along the east and west fringes of the valley as they practice formation flying at various times of the year, but they are most regularly seen during Remembrance Day services in Oliver and Okanagan Falls.

The low altitude flybys at approximately 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 are part of the commemorative services after around 25 years of annual Remembrance Day flybys for pilots Paul Dumoret, Ace Elkink and Walt Lannon.

“There are usually three of us. One of the planes is a spam-can, not a warbird,” Dumoret said recently at an Oliver hanger where he keeps his plane, a 1970s-vintage Nanchang CJ6A.

Dumoret says the Chinese aircraft first began production in 1958 and are still produced today.

Formation flying near McIntyre Bluff north of Oliver.
Formation flying near McIntyre Bluff north of Oliver.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

The three pilots fly generally fly their formation with a Maule — a civilian aircraft — leading the group and the two Nanchangs flying behind.

Several years ago vintage Harvard aircraft, which were used as trainers during the Second World Ware, were used but those pilots have since sold the aircraft. They’ve been replaced by the Nanchangs.

“We sometimes have three war birds, but if not, the spam-can flies lead, which we call Mother Goose,” Dumoret says, adding a T-28 piston-engine trainer aircraft based in Oliver sometimes flies with the group.

“He’s big and fast, and tough for him to stay as slow as us,” Dumoret says of the trainer aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force and navy.

The Nanchang was designed and built in China for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force as a basic trainer. The two Oliver pilots that purchased them were looking for a more affordable warbird than the Harvards that once populated the South Okanagan skies.

“I was looking for a warbird, but I didn’t want a Harvard at the time. They are pretty expensive to operate gas-wise. Maintenance isn’t bad, they’re a good airplane, but they are bigger, heavier and use double the fuel of the Nanchang,” Dumoret says.

He says the machine is actually “a great airplane,” with low- to mid-level altitude performance similar to the Harvard. He says the Chinese aircraft is based on Russian and British World War II styles with air-powered starters, brakes, pneumatic gear and flaps.

Dumoret says Elkink flies “Mother Goose” while Lannon flies the other Nanchang.

“He’s an old warbird guru. He’s been flying warbirds for a long time,” Dumoret says.

The three pilots’ interest in flying formation on Remembrance Day is motivated by historical interest in the war. None of the pilots are veterans; the flybys are their way of paying respect.

The silhouette of the planes against the sky, along with the unmuffled, distinct roar of their piston engines, provides a momentary perspective, or reality of war to those remembering below.

Dumoret, who also performs at air shows, has had several airplanes in his flying career, some of which were used in business flying. These days, the Nanchang is used more for pleasure flying than anything else.

“After Nov. 11, we generally pretty much park these for the winter. They don’t have heat in the cabins. They are a fair weather plane,” he said of the trainer, which has a cockpit that seats two, front to back.

The three Oliver pilots' Remembrance Day schedule includes a flyby over the Okanagan Falls Legion around two or three minutes before 11 a.m., followed by a flyover in Oliver around four minutes after the hour on Sunday, Nov. 11.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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