Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mexico's Air Force to Replace Pilatus PC-7 Fleet with Beechcraft T-6C+

As reported by Jane's earlier today, the Mexican Air Force has announced the purchase of six Beechcraft T-6C+ aircraft to be used as military trainers. The aircraft will come equipped with hard points, enabling them to carry external stores and weapons, though the latter are claimed to be intended for delivering practice rounds only.

(Image: Hawker-Beechcraft)

What is unclear at this time is how the role of the new T-6 fleet will compare with that of the relatively new Pilatus PC-9M fleet (photo). Considering that the PC-9 and (soon to be retired) PC-7 fleets are both reportedly utilized for combat and counter-insurgency, it would be surprising to see the wholly capable T-6C+ fleet limited to training duties. Time will tell.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Ultimate Aircraft Recognition Hobby Shop

The sleepy, rural town of Tecumseh Michigan has long enjoyed the distinction of being the self-proclaimed "Refrigeration Capital of the World". But as I discovered last week, 2011 may be the year where that exalted status has finally been overtaken by something even more grandiose.

I hereby nominate Tecumseh as the "Obscure Plastic Aircraft Model Capital of the World".

While I was back in Michigan for Christmas, I decided to visit a couple of the small airports in Tecumseh to see if there were any interesting aircraft types lurking about. It is, after all, where I discovered the Andrew Smith AJ-2. That search ultimately proved to be fruitless. But my appetite for unusual aircraft would soon be whet in an entirely different manner.

Drive down the main street of Tecumseh, and you'll find J-Bar Hobbies:

A quick glance at the unassuming exterior provides no clues to what treasures lay hidden within. One might expect to find models of B-17s, P-51s, and F-15s. Maybe even a Mig or two. But even the most seasoned and jaded aviation geek (particularly of the NIFA variety) will be stupefied upon discovering the bounty of such names as Myasischev, Culver, Temco, and Sud-Ouest:

So if you're ever heading into or out of Michigan on US-23 just north of Toledo, consider a 20-minute detour. Or head over to J-Bar's website and do some browsing online.