AirplaneGeeks 386 Steve Hinton and Planes of Fame

Guest Steve Hinton is a record holding air racer, president of Planes of Fame Air Museum, and owner of a military aircraft restoration company. In the news, United is replacing 50-seaters with larger aircraft, more bad behavior by airline crew members, military drone crashes, desert beetles and airplane frost, and airlines sucking away regional pilots. Also, the Boeing P-26 Peashooter, and the A-10. Again.

Northrop N9MB

Northrop N9MB. Courtesy Planes of Fame Air Museum


Steve Hinton is an American aviator who held a world speed record from 1979 to 1989 and won six Unlimited-class air races, including two national championships. He won four consecutive Unlimited races in one year, and remains the only pilot ever to do so. He retired from racing in 1990.

Steve Hinton

Steve Hinton

Steve is now president of Planes of Fame Air Museum with locations in Chino, California and Valle-Grand Canyon, Arizona, and owner of Fighter Rebuilders, a military aircraft restoration company.

On August 14, 1979, Steve set the piston-driven aircraft 3-kilometer world speed record at 499.018 mph in the highly-modified RB51 Red Baron at Tonopah, Nevada. At age 27, he was the youngest person ever to capture the speed record.

On September 16, 1979 while racing the RB-51 in Reno, Steve’s plane suffered catastrophic engine failure. He finished the race in second place, but crashed short of the runway. Although the plane’s fuel erupted in a fireball, the cockpit was thrown away from the fire and Steve survived with a broken back, leg, and ankle.

Steve became the chief test pilot for the Tsunami Racer in 1987. Some of his notable wins in air racing include:

  • 1978, Mojave, Red Baron
  • 1978, Reno (Unlimited National Champion), Red Baron
  • 1979, Miami, Red Baron
  • 1979, Mojave, Red Baron
  • 1985, Reno (Unlimited National Champion), Super Corsair
  • 1990, Sherman, Texas, Tsunami

Steve is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and charter member of the Motion Picture Pilots Association. He has worked on more than 60 films. In 2002 he received a nomination from the World Stunt Awards for the Taurus Award, Best Aerial Work in Pearl Harbor.


United buying 40 new 737-700s to upgrade fleet; misses Wall Street forecast

United intends to retire many of its 50-seat regional fleet by 2019 and replace them with larger aircraft. This is just the first buy. FlightGlobal reports United has 256 50-seat regional jets and had “considered the 110-set Bombardier CS100 and both the 90-seat Embraer 190 and 120-seat E190-E2 aircraft.”

Brian's United 737 seat sheet

Brian’s United 737 seat sheet

See alsoUnited, Southwest buy 73 Boeing jets in blow to Bombardier and United Chooses Boeing, doesn’t Eliminate CSeries.

Alaska Airlines Captain David Hans Arntson arrested for flying while drunk

The man faces Federal charges for allegedly flying two Alaska Airlines flights while under the influence of alcohol. Arntson was selected for drug and alcohol testing after he landed at John Wayne Airport.

SkyWest flight attendant charged with making bomb threats on two flights in North Dakota and Virginia

Former SkyWest flight attendant Justin Cox-Sever faces Federal charges for making bomb threats on several flights. In one case, he claimed he was being extorted, but he later recanted that claim.

America’s drone crisis revealed

A Washington Post investigation says that over 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed since 2001. In one incident, the pilot didn’t realize she had been flying the aircraft upside-down. In another, the pilot didn’t notice he had squeezed the wrong red button on his joystick, putting the plane into a spin.

How a Namib Desert beetle could help stop frost on airplanes

Scientists at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute think they have learned something about controlling frost from a beetle that lives in the desert. The Namib Desert beetle can collect water in the air through bumps on its shell which then directs water droplets into the beetle’s mouth. The scientists believe they can scale this up to work on large objects, like airplanes.

Seaport Airlines dunks San Diego

Seaport Airlines based in Portland, Ore., has been forced to drop some routes because of a pilot shortage. Seaport executive vice president Tim Sieber said, “A lot of regional airlines are undergoing this challenge right now, one we think will last a long time.” He said once Seaport pilots accumulate 1,500 hours of flight time, they typically leave for more lucrative jet-flying jobs on bigger airlines, and their vacancies are not being filled fast enough by newly-licensed pilots. “We’ve downsized the airline to one where we can focus on providing a reliable level of service with our smaller fleet,” Sieber said.

The Airplane of the Week

David tells us the history of the Boeing P-26A Peashooter.

Boeing P-26A Peashooter

Boeing P-26A Peashooter at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, by David Vanderhoof

Listener Recordings

  • Christopher Sims talks about affordable air charter travel, and creating a secondary charter market.
  • Our “Main(e) Man” Micah brings us the last conversation on the A-10. Maybe.


  • Drone Magazine UK interviewed Max Flight for their January 2016 article (Issue#2) about drone podcasts. Find more about the magazine at their Facebook page.


Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at

3 thoughts on “AirplaneGeeks 386 Steve Hinton and Planes of Fame

  1. Jim Morrell

    The N9MB picture above brings back memories. When Northrop was ordered to destroy their fleet of Flying Wings, they came to the Aluminum Smelting operation in Corona, CA. A friend and I would sneek onto the grounds and “fly” the airplanes waiting to be melted down. We “flew” in the cockpits of both the full sized wing as well as the N9MB, Later, on the day Chino planes of Fame planned to test fly their little N9MB, I coincidently flew into Chino Airport with a friend. The plane was nearby with a crowd around it. I stood next to the designated pilot for the aircraft and told him that I had flown one of the little aircraft. His questioning look prompted me to tell him of my earlier experiences at the Corona smelting plant. Later, I watched as the plane experimentally flew over my Corona home.

  2. Riccardo Cabeza

    Gosh! the A-10’s are expensive? Really? Who was that guy? I missed your rant that the F-35 is functionally useless and epically more expensive. Which episode was that? I missed it.

    Second, maybe the Air Force should revert to the Army Air Corps if they refuse to do what their charter directs them to do. Scratch that, why is the National Command Authority simply unable, unwilling or incapable of simply ordering the Air Force to do their freaking job?

    Third, you seem happy to throw those that shoulder the brunt of American belligerence, the Warriors on the ground, under the proverbial Ground Support Equipment.

    You know those shiny expensive things you guys talk about? Their sole purpose in life is to support those Hard Chargers on terra firma. If the Air Force refuses to do it’s job, I’m sure the Army would be happy to take those A-10’s off their hands.

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