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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORWAY IN SEPTEMBER, c. 1920s

In My PT-26: 1958

In My PT-26: 1958

Lancaster, California in 1958. I'm checking out a desert landing strip. View full size.

When downside up

It can't be seen behind the pilot because of the canopy, but the 26 and the 19 had, for both occupants' entertainment, a fairly stout metal pylon within that area meant to keep weeds, mud and harder things away from their heads, if the student (NEVER the instructor) managed to flip the airplane while rolling on the ground. Between manufacture of the 19 and 26 was the PT-23, fitted not with an inline engine as these but a radial engine.

I always wondered if because the Canadians called these Cornells and the much faster and bigger AT-6 (SNJ in the U.S. Navy) was called a Harvard by them, would something really slow and small be named after a community college.

Here's a PT-19 showing off its protective pylon. I hope the smiling young aviator survived his immediate future and became a very old and happy man. The original photo is signed "Best wishes, Ken 1943".

It's a convertible

Both the front and rear canopies are on tracks.

The plane can be flown with either canopy slid back as shown in the photo or with them forward in the closed position.

Not Open Cockpit

What differentiated the PT-26 Cornell from the PT-19 was that it had an enclosed cockpit. That's what the Royal Canadian Air Force wanted. Along with the T-6 Harvard (known to Americans as the Texan) the Cornell was a mainstay of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Pilots would do their initial training on a Harvard and elementary training on planes like Moths and eventually Cornells before going on to service training on other aircraft depending on ability.

When I was a kid the RCAF used to have one of their storage stations for surplus aircraft at RCAF Saskatoon. There were a lot of Harvards and Cornells there into the late 1960s waiting for sale by Crown Assets Disposal (as it was known then). Being born long after the war we really didn't understand the significance of those old tail draggers.

About the PT-26

Wasn't this a bit of a let-down after flying an F-86? Certainly cheaper to operate per hour. I can imagine a joie de vivre that comes from flying an open cockpit aircraft. Your thoughts?

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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