Aircraft of the Week – Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon
Category: General Aviation Aircraft
As I mentioned in my last article, I have the unique opportunity to be around all kinds of airplanes. It seems like every day that I see a new airplane or meet an interesting person. This past week was no exception as I had the opportunity to learn about the Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon! This was an airplane that I had never heard of so I got to learn a lot about a really cool piece of history.
The Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon was a major redesign of the PV-1 Ventura which was a patrol and bomber aircraft used by the United States and British Commonwealth forces during World War II. As with many early designs, there was plenty of room for improvement. Lockheed beefed up the wings and increased the useful load in order to make a more capable machine. Though they had complications that required several wing redesigns, they created the PV-2 Harpoon. It proved to be a capable and reliable airplane and eventually became popular with operators all over the world.
I had never seen one of these before so I was very interested in learning more. I walked up to take a closer look and ask a few questions and was surprised when the pilots offered to take a few of us on a ride! They were doing some training and were gracious enough to offer an unforgettable experience for us. They had me sit up in the cockpit and put a headset on. I listened to the pilots as they started the powerful Pratt and Whitney R-2800 engines and completed their checklists. They taxied to the end of the runway and with 2,000 horsepower per engine we barreled down the runway and off into the sky. They headed out to a practice area and started doing maneuvers (steep turns, stalls, etc.). I couldn’t help but feel like I was sent back in time as I sat in the cockpit looking at the old steam gauges and original instruments. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had!
Not only did I learn about the history of this awesome airplane, but also got a small (very small…) glimpse of how the crew might have felt as they prepared for war. I can’t imagine how it must have been to do and see the things those young men did. I gained an intense appreciation for all the men and women who sacrifice so much for all of us. On another flight on the Harpoon, I sat in the turret as they flew through Provo Canyon on their way back to its home in Heber, Utah. With big mountains on both sides of me and no civilization in sight, it was quite easy to again be transported through time. I feel extremely lucky for the opportunity to have this once in a lifetime experience, and want to thank the Commemorative Air Force in Heber for this unforgettable experience!