Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ghosts of Airshows Past - White Lightning

Poking through various corners of the internet for information about the the P-38 which flew in the Heritage Flight at last weekend's Sioux Falls airshow brought me to a fascinating history of another P-38, one I was much more familiar with: White Lightning, a P-38L flown and raced by Lefty Gardner throughout the '70s, '80s, and '90s.

I remember White Lightning from the Reno Air Races. Much like Bob Hoover and Ole Yeller, at the time, Lefty and White Lightning would both race in the Unlimited Class, and put on an airshow. I recall his P-38 act as being graceful, and sounding like nothing else with those twin Allisons singing in harmony.

White Lightning as I remember her.
I didn't realize that in 2001, she was seriously damaged in a crash after an engine failure and fire, although the pilot, Ladd Gardner (Lefty's son) was unharmed.
Even more to to the point, I had absolutely no idea that the beautiful, gleaming silver Red Bull P-38 that visits air shows around Europe, was White Lightning reborn!
Red Bull P-38
You'd never guess they were the same aircraft.

Although it's a shame that I'll never see that twin boomed white and red beauty race around the pylons at Reno again, it's good to know that she's still flying, and in great hands with the Red Bull team.

This post would not have been possible without information gathered from the P-38 Lightning Association

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