Pilot: John Collver | Aircraft: AT-6 Wardog
John Collver has an aviation career spanning more than three decades and over 14,000 hours of flight time in over 50 types of aircraft. His career includes time in the Goodyear Blimp, flying for television, as well as teaching and competing in the aerobatic arena. In addition, John formally flew for the Northrop/Grumman corporation Supporting the U.S. Military for over a decade.
War Dog was built in Texas in 1944. First stationed at MCAS El Toro, then six months later transferred to Miramar Air Station. Several years and numerous duty stations later, she was retired from the US Armed Forces. Her next duty assignment was with the Japanese Self-defense Force until 1974.
Due to be scrapped, as was the demise of many World War II warbirds, it was at this time War Dog was discovered and saved by Warbirds West in Compton, California. They sent her back to the states where she was completely rebuilt to its original condition. It was at this time John became her new owner.
War Dog's operational costs plus the numerous items related to ownership of a genuine warbird are constantly increasing. John estimates that War Dog's operating cost in the beginning was approximately $400.00 per hour. Today increased fuel prices, maintenance, parts and insurance are well beyond that. When you look at War Dog's logbook you can understand the operating cost increase. She has over 10,000 hours on her airframe and nine Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engine replacements or overhauls by 1997. She is a tough airplane that still has plenty of flight hours left thanks to the meticulously detailed maintenance John regularly performs.
War Dog with a wing span of 42ft, a length of 29ft 6in, and a performance speed of 212mph, she will go the distance to perform an aerobatic routine that will leave spectators breathless. For the Veterans, that learned to fly the AT-6/SNJ, will also be teary eyed. For them the memories of their training to be aviators and their war time experiences long ago will return renewed as if it was yesterday. They will describe to their children, grand-children and great-grand-children the aerial maneuvers. The same maneuvers and techniques they were once taught as fighter pilots during WWII.
There is no doubt in the minds of those observing the loops and rolls performed by John and his sidekick War Dog to the sounds of patriotic military tunes that this performance is more than its visual appearance. Their performance is a living tribute performed by an unyielding dedicated individual and his plane to honor the men and women serving today and in the past, living or deceased. Their aerobatic performance will cause many spectators to become as teary eyed as the veterans observing the aerobatic salute. Their tears come from the emotions that they feel within their hearts. For they also known that the cost of freedom comes at a high price.
The aerial demonstration performed by John and War Dog is without a doubt an act that thrills spectators young and old. It stirs their patriotic hearts and generates a high level of excitement within each spectator.
Click Here to Learn More About John Collver and Wardog 17