The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently ran a special section with pictures from the city’s past. Perusing these photos brought up a lot of nostalgia for me, so I decided to write blogs about several of the things or events captured in them.
You younger readers may never have heard of the B-36. It was a huge bomber built by Convair, which became General Dynamics, which is now Lockheed. Production began around the end of World War II and continued through 1954.
The B-36 was the largest piston-engine airplane ever built. It was 162 feet long and had a wingspan of 230 feet. That huge wingspan contained six rear-facing engines. That’s right—six. Three on each wing. The props trailed the wings and pushed the plane rather than pulling it like the props on other propeller-driven planes.
The plane’s combat weight was 262,500 pounds, but it could take off weighing up to 410,000 pounds. It had a maximum speed of 418 mph, but its cruise speed was only 230 mph. Its climb rate of 1995 feet per minute at sea level and its relatively slow cruise speed are exceeded by many of today’s light twins.
When I was growing up, both my elementary school and my junior high school were more or less in the flight pattern for planes taking off to the south from the runway shared by Convair and Carswell Air Force Base. Since the prevailing winds here are from the south, almost every flight that took off from there flew over my schools.
When the air force began flying B-52’s and other jets, their noise didn’t last long as they moved swiftly away from the area, but not so the B-36. When these behemoths took off, it took them forever to lumber out of the area. The noise from those six engines rattled the windows in the two schools and lasted for five minutes or more. All teaching necessarily came to a stop while they went by.
Now the planes that fly in and out of that runway are so light and fast you hardly notice them. That’s nice for teachers and students trying to hear one another, but it’s sorta sad, too. I missed those old behemoths.
The last one built was named “The City of Fort Worth.” It sat between Carswell and General Dynamics for awhile, but when the city of Fort Worth couldn’t come up with the funds and space to maintain and display it, it was moved to Arizona, where it sits at the Pima Air & Space Museum just south of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Maybe I’ll drive out there one of these days to see it.
What things your hometown was famous for years ago do you miss? What do you do to scratch the itch of missing them?
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