Aviation enthusiasts whom are regularly active on social media must have noticed a recent aerial photography trend amongst different organizations – posing their personnel toy action figures beside their equipment from a freshly opened toy box. These vertical shots looking straight down upon a scene are part of a bizarre new craze start sparked at the beginning of September by a Facebook post from the police force in Zurich, Switzerland. This photographic phenomenon has also found a name – the ‘Tetris Challenge’ – which derives from the photo-layout’s resemblance to the assemblage of building blocks in the clunky, but popular 1980s video game known as Tetris. The ‘Tetris Challenge’ has literally ‘gone viral’, conquering the Internet – spreading like a fever across almost every social network.
And you know that things have really taken root in the zeitgeist of creative popular culture when the talented editors at My Modern Met cover a story as they did recently – noting…
“Today’s Tetris Challenge is a fun way to visualize the often chaotic nature of working in the emergency services in a visually satisfying, organized way. From Switzerland to Taiwan, police, firemen, and paramedics are laying their equipment to take part in the online trend. Scroll down to check out some of the best Tetris Challenge compositions so far…”
As for aviation-related competitors in the Tetris Challenge, the Israeli Air Force recently tweeted their own entry featuring their aircraft, equipment and personnel – this too went viral. The photo below shows their efforts, which includes a 69 Squadron McDonnell-Douglas F-15I Ra’am; a 107 Squadron General Dynamics F-16I Sufa, a 102 Squadron Aermacchi M-346 Lavi, as well as a Grob G-120A Snunit, Bell OH-58B Saifan and Beechcraft T-6A Efroni of the Flight Training School. There are also numerous vehicles and ancillary equipment. Most interestingly, perhaps, is the inclusion of an airworthy Boeing PT-17 Kaydet and North American Harvard that the Israeli Air Force maintain at their museum in Hatzerim.
So what about in the Warbird community you might ask? Other than the brief hint in the Israeli Air Force image, we hadn’t seen anything that focused on vintage military aircraft until the CAF Dixie Wing published a few photos of their own crack at the Tetris Challenge a couple of days ago. The marvelous composition, as you can see below, shows four of the airplanes from the Wing’s collection, unit volunteers and some of the vehicles and equipment they use to maintain and restore their aircraft.
In many respects, the Dixie Wing is one of the most proactive units of the Commemorative Air Force when it comes to marketing and promoting their organization’s mission via social media. Last week the volunteers organized a photo-shoot, with support from Georgia Aerial Systems & Photography, a local drone operator. Setting the stage took about 3 hrs and about 30 mins of flight time for the drone to capture all of the photos! The only setback resulted from the lengthy time it took to get everything set up – the sun moved behind one of the nearby trees, casting a large shadow over the Dixie Wing’s T-34. However, thanks to a little Photoshop magic, the photographer was able to pull out the details from the darkness.
An amusing game one can play when viewing this composition is to try and identify all of the items that the Dixie Wing volunteers included. Due to the limited space available on the ramp in front of their hangar, only include four of the wing’s seven aircraft could play a role, but those that took part did so in style! On the bottom left is the unit’s FG-1D Corsair which is one of the first aircraft to join the Commemorative Air Force fleet, in 1961. This Goodyear-built Corsair wears the colors of WWII Marine aviator Lt M.O. Chance, who flew with VMF-312 in 1945. Another iconic airplane in the photo is the mighty Red Nose (top right) – the P-51D Mustang which gave the CAF its start in 1957. The U.S. Navy Beechcraft T-34 Mentor in the top left represents the latest restoration which CAF Dixie Wing volunteers completed. Other interesting items in view are a B-24 nose turret, replica WWII 1,000lb and 500lb bombs, the magnificent Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the remarkable Willys Jeep and two post-WWII aircraft tugs. Perhaps the most interesting, non-flying artifacts however, are the original 1940s wooden Boeing B-17 models located right behind the left trailing edge of the North American LT-6 Mosquito. The Dixie Wing has a very large collections of 1940s toys – shaped as airplanes, tanks and ships. Sticking to wooden toys, the watchful eye must have notice a second P-51 – albeit a pedal-plane P-51 variant that is! You can see it right behind the left wing of the life-sized Mustang – a smaller, wooden Lil’ Red Nose provides entertainment for younger visitors at the Dixie Wing Museum.
Another interesting piece is the lower wing section of a Boeing N2S-2 Kaydet (Stearman) restoration project which the CAF Dixie Wing recently acquired. The U.S. Navy originally accepted this aircraft into the service as Bureau Number 3531 on July 9th, 1941. Its first assignment was at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. From there, the aircraft moved to a Naval Reserve Aviation Base in Detroit, Michigan, on April 9th, 1942. By April 1st, 1944 the biplane trainer found itself flying out of Rodd Field, a satellite airfield for NAS Corpus Christi in Texas. That November, the aircraft joined the pool in Dallas, Texas until the Navy struck her from their books on November 30th, 1944. To support the restoration of this aircraft, please click HERE.
To respect the Tetris Challenge rules of engagement, the volunteers laid out the tools they need to support their warbird fleet, as shown in the pictures below.
The CAF Dixie Wing is a unit of the Commemorative Air Force, a non-profit organization dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft. Based in Peachtree City, Ga., the Dixie Wing was founded in 1987. One of largest units of the Commemorative Air Force, the unit maintains and flies seven WWII aircraft including a P-51 Mustang, FG-1D Corsair and rare types such as the SBD Dauntless dive bomber and P-63A Kingcobra. The unit, composed of 300 volunteers, is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. This is a creative way of raising awareness about their mission to preserve history and inspire future generations. Please consider a donation at www.dixiewing.org/donate/