The Fourth of July Parade at 2 p.m. Tomorrow
Due to unforeseen circumstances with the aircraft, the skydivers will not start the Fourth of July parade this year – but they vow to return next year.
Fortunately, parade spectators won’t be disappointed, because they will be treated to Captain John Collver and “War Dog,” a SNJ-5 Texan airplane that will make a flyover of the parade route.
During a flyover, the plane’s speed can range from 60 to 200 miles per hour, at an altitude of 300 ft. The plane is 29 feet long, with a wingspan of 42 feet, and has 600hp Pratt and Whitney R-1340 radial engine with a supercharger.
This 1944 Marine SNJ-5 Texan is a WWII trainer and is known as a pilot maker because these planes supposedly were responsible for training more military pilots than any other airplane in history.
Built in Dallas, some of the planes were based in Orange County at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. It was part of the VMT-2 training squadron (V stands for heavier than air and MT for military trainer.) On its tail is WD, which stands for Walt Disney.
In 1943, Walt Disney productions designed the El Toro “Flying Bull” logo, a red bull with small wings, as a base mascot. In reciprocation, the Marines painted Walt Disney’s initials, WD, on all the aircraft based at El Toro.
After El Toro, the plane was reassigned to Marine Corp Air Station Miramar (San Diego), then the Naval Training Command off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. It was retired in the 1950s and was sent to Japan to serve in the Japanese Self Defense Force.
Set to be scrapped, the plane and several other Texan planes were purchased by civilians, such as Collver, who restored them.
Collver started flying at the age of 13, 50 years ago, and has logged more than 15,000 hours flying time.
His competitive aerobatic career started with competition in 1974 in the International Aerobatic Club, where he achieved high rankings in its Gold Cup Championships. He started his own aerobatic training school out of Hawthorne, and in 1982, he flew his first air show in Porterville.
During that time, Collver was also flying as a corporate pilot for Northrop/ Grumman, where he became a captain. He has flown notables such as Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, State Senators Diane Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer, and Brigadier General Chuck Yeager.
War Dog has a propeller that is 108 inches long, and a distinctive sound from the propeller tips. Some of the equipment typically found on a T—6 are bomb racks, blind instrumentation, standard cameras and 30-caliber fixed and flexible guns.
During the Korean War, the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps used the SNJ-5 Texan planes as forward air controllers.